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man, but he has qualities and he has performances
to his account which deserve recognition.

Whatever may be the native intelligence of the
Indian, the entire concensus of opinion on the part of
those competent to form one is that the metis usually
form the progressive part of the Indian population,
being quick to learn, bright, and no more immoral
than those around them. Nearly two and a half cen-
turies ago Nicolas Perrot, that acute observer of In-
dians, had ''always observed that the half-breeds (at
this period all French) raised among the Indians
were generally resolute, remarkably brave, and res-
pectable in the nation." His opinion is borne out by
countless illustrations down through the centuries.

Many French mixed-bloods have given full proof
of valor ; more than one has shown himself as capable
of heroism as that child whose name unfortunately
McKinney and Hall (''Indian Tribes" 2:116) omit
to give, the twelve year old son of the Winnebago
mixed-blood Wa-kam-ha-ka (son of a French trader
and the Winnebago squaw Mon-ka-ush-ka) , of whom


Our Debt to the Red Man

these authors narrate that in 1834 he was in a small
encampment of Winnebagoes when a band of Sauks
and Foxes surprised it and killed all but this boy. The
little hero fired a gun, killing a Sauk brave, then
swam the Mississippi and brought the news to Fort
Crawford at Prairie du Chien, thus enabling the agent
at that post, by prompt interposition, to prevent a
bloody war. The boy's father, who though half
French was so much an Indian that his French fath-
er 's name is not preserved, was ' ' a fine looking, grace-
ful man," who first and last had eleven wives, (the
Winnebagoes up to that time being polygamous).
Though, as our authors say, he was "familiar with
the current transactions of the day, ' ' he was ( perhaps
not unnaturally, in view of the recorded dealings of
our government with his tribe) ''obstinately opposed
to all the benevolent plans of the American Govern-
ment or individuals for civilizing his race. ' '

The necessity, if not the advantage, of removal
westward was early recognized by the intelligent met-
is Pierre Chartiers, who about 1830 led a number of
his Shawnee fellow tribesmen from the mouth of the
Conedogwinut Creek near Carlisle, Pa., to the banks
of the Ohio a few miles below the present Pittsburgh,
where in the vicinity of a creek which still bears his
name he established a trading post."" Thence they

^ If the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania werq our only sources,
our opinion of Chartiers would be anything but favorable. For
many years he was the object of the hatred and despair of the
authorities of the Proprietory Government of that colony. Hav-
ing a trading post on the Alleghany in 1745 (having "disposed
of his effects" at Carlisle), he had "gone over to the enemy"


French Mixed Bloods of the Middle West

eventvially went westward, joining their western kin-
dred the Shawnees of Kentucky and Ohio at Shawnee-
tow^n, which half a century later came into our history
as Tippecanoe, the scene of the defeat by Gen. Har-
rison of Tecumthe and the Prophet. Later, as we
shall see, the remnant of the tribe removed to Kansas
under a metis whose name is still in honor.

Noel Mograin, a French Osage, was Gen. McCoy 's
interpreter on an exploring expedition ordered by the
Government in 1828 with a view to the removal of
the Indians of Indiana and Illinois. The Kansa
(Kansas) region was selected and thither we shall
presently see the French mixed-blood, Medard Beau-
bien, son of ' ' the first citizen of Chicago, ' ' Jean Bap-
tiste Beaubien, leading a party of his Indian relatives.

by accepting a military command under the French king. Quite
naturally, the Proprietory Government feared him and regretted
that he had not earlier been dealt with as he deserved, "but an
Apprehension that the Shawnees (whose perfidious Blood partly
runs in Chartier's Veins) might resent upon our Traders any
severities upon him had saved him" (Memorial of the Govern-
ment to the Assembly, "Col. Rec. Pa." IV. 75-77). Though he
had persuaded a party of the "perfidious" Shawnees to remove
with him "to a greater distance upon another River," the Gov-
ernor never recovered from the deadly fear that "a Person of his
Savage Temper" would "do us all the Mischief he can," and
suggests that it would be well to attempt to conciliate the
Shawnees. Thi.s dread runs through all the records of the time,
though with no mention of any overt acts on the part of Char-
tiers against the proprietory government. In 1748 (lb. V. 311)
a footnote observes that some of the Shawnees had been seduced
by Peter Chartiers, a noted Indian trader, and removed from
their town to be nearer the French.


Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides

WE have seen that while ''not many noble"
sons of France intermarried with the na-
tives of the western world, yet there were
some distinj^iished exceptions.

An instance of a family of French mixed-bloods
carrying in its name through several generations the
''noble particule" appears in that of Charles Michel
de Langlade, ' ' the Father of Wisconsin, ' ' w^hose early
career as an officer in the armies of New France awak-
ens especial interest, since it was by the tactics which
he planned and almost forced upon his superior offi-
cer that Washington met the most crushing defeat in
which he ever had a part. De Langlade's father,
Augustin, was of the old French family Mouet de
Moras, and the first to adopt (doubtless, according to
French custom, from his mother's family) the name
de Langlade. He was a fur trader at Machilimacinac,
and after English possession one of the first to settle
in the valley of the Fox River. Of this Augustin and
his Ottowa wife Domitilde, widow of the Sieur Daniel
de Villeneuve, and sister of the Ottawa head chief La
Fourche (Mis-so-wa-quet), Charles de Langlade was
the son. Accustomed almost from infancy to Indian
warfare, he led a band of 650 Indians to reinforce de
Beaujeu's 1250 regulars at Fort Duquesne. He di-


Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides

vined the tactics which alone could prevail over Brad-
dock 's disciplined army; and after de Beaujen's
thrice repeated refusal, induced him to surprise Brad-
dock by an attack on the Monongaliela/ The result
is history. Only AVashington and his Virginia militia
saved the rout from becoming a massacre.

De Langlade's training for such warfare had be-
gun early. Always more than half Indian in spirit,
as Tasse says, at the age of five he was taken by his
Ottawa uncle La Fourche as a sort of mascot to war
against another tribe allied with the English. The
Ottawas conquered, and the tribe, believing the child
to be protected by a powerful manitou, yielded always
to his influence. He was later sent to Montreal for
education, but at the age of fifteen we find him pre-

1 Mr. Joseph Wallace (op. cit.), basing his statement upon an old
French account ( ' 'Relations Diverses sur la Bataille de Malan-
gu61e gagne le 9 juillet 1755 par les Frangais sous M. de Beaujeu,
Commandant du Fort Duquesne, sur les Anglois sous M. Brad-
dock, general en chef des troupes Anglaises"), says that Brad-
dock's defeat was due to Daniel Lienard de Beaujeu, Command-
ant at Fort Duquesne, and makes no mention of de Langlade.
Under the circumstances this was natural enough, but the above
facts are too well attested for doubt to be possible. Naturally
M. de Beaujeu, once having yielded to the persuasions of his
subordinate, would receive credit for the victory. Other explana-
tions of Braddock's defeat are not lacking. The Rev. G. P.
Donehoo (op. cit.) says that it "was due far more to the aliena-
tion of the Delawares and Shawnees in Ohio, because of the fear-
ful abuse of the rum traffic, than to any lack of ability on the part
of Braddock." "The Indians on the Ohio had been driven by
the nefarious land sales and the traffic in rum away from the
English and into the arms of the French.'' Unquestionably the
blunders of the English in their relations with the Indians con-
tributed remotely to this defeat, but its immediate cause was
that given in the text, drawn from original records in the Wis-
consin Historical Society publications and confirmed by Judge
Campbell ("Wisconsin in Three Centuries"), by Archbishop
Tasse ("Les Canadiens de I'Ouest," I. 5. 1878), and more rec-
ently by the late Reuben Gold Thwaites (Colonies). Dr. East-
man (Quart. Journ. S.A.I., I. 1915) accounts for Braddock's
defeat by his neglect of and disregard for his Indian scouts, a
most probable contributory element to the event.


Our Debt to the Red Man

paring for the important part he was later to take in
the struggle between two great nations. He was a
cadet of acknowledged bravery and ability, and
King's interpreter, understanding many Indian dia-
lects. He had already given proof of military ability
by various notable exploits, when at the opening of
the Seven Year's War Vaudreuil put him at the head
of the Indian forces, with whose aid he conquered the
Miami allies of the English, and freed the valleys of
Northern Ohio from English occupancy. He was
twenty-six years old at the time of Braddock's defeat.

De Langlade with his Indians was active all
through the subsequent struggle, until on the Plains
of Abraham he surpassed himself, after giving counsel
which, had it been followed, might perhaps have
changed defeat into victory (Tasse, op. cit. p. 28).
The war over, he became as loyal to the conquering
nation as he had been to the French, settling in Green
Bay as Superintendent of Indians for Great Britain,
and Captain of militia.

Here, getting word of the conspiracy of Pontiac
(who had been one of his young braves on the Monon-
gahela), he might have frustrated it, had not Captain
Etherington, "tired," he said, ''of hearing his old
woman's stories," refused to heed his warning. De
Langlade, however, succeeded in rescuing Ethering-
ton and his lieutenant, Leslie, coming with a band of
Ottawas when they were actually bound to the torture
stake, and cutting their cords, defied the Indians to
attack him. It was only owing to his powerful inter-


Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides

cession that any English life was saved (Tasse, op.
cit. p. 52).

At the outbreak of the Revolution Charles de
Langlade, then a loyal British officer as he subse-
quently became a loyal American citizen, offered his
services to Bourgoyne, but was met with such open
lack of confidence that his Indians refused to fight.
He returned to Green Bay and became the leading
merchant and landowner in the Fox River Valley.''
His sons and sons-in-law, whether the children of his
first, Ottawa, or his later, French wife, fill a large
place in the history of the Upper Lakes during the
last half of the 18th century (Thwaites, "Wiscon-
sin"). Though not, as has often been asserted, the
first white settler in the state, (not even his father
was that), Wisconsin delights to honor Charles de
Langlade as its "father." Absolutely fearless on the
field of battle, a born strategist, one of the most cour-
ageous defenders of the French cause in Canada, he
knew how to accept the inevitable, and devoted the
last years of a long life to building up the economic
prosperity of his state. Yet in his old age he loved
to recall his life of adventure, the ninety -nine battles,
skirmishes and border forays in which he had taken
part, and which he wished had been one more to make

- Langlade, ''one of the most courageous defenders of the French
cause in Candida" (Tasse in Wis. Hist. Col. VII., p. 124), was
an admirable illustration of that French type of loyalty to truth
which consists in acceptance of the accomplished fact, — a type
of loyalty notably witnessed to by the Huguenots, who became
"English in England, Germans in the Rhine Provinces, Dutch in
Holland and Americans in America,'' and of which we shall find
more than one instance among the metis of the west.


Our Debt to the Red Man

a hundred. He died in 1800, universally mourned
throughout the Northwest. His integrity was pro-
verbial. ' ' It would have been easy for him to defraud
the government," says Archibishop Tasse (he being at
the head of the militia), but his accounts were ''al-
ways remarkable for the strictest rectitude." The
Indians called him A-ke-wan-ge-a-can-so (He who is
fierce for the land, i. e. the country) .

Two near relatives of Charles de Langlade were
in his force in the battle of the Monongahela, and
afterward distinguished themselves in the defence of
French interests in America: the French-Menominee
Souligny, husband of one half-sister (by their Indian
mother's former marriage), and G-autier de Vierville,
the son of another. This latter sister, Marie Louise
de Villeneuve, had married a Frenchman of family,
Claude Gautier de Vierville. Their son, the younger
Gautier de Vierville, a heroic youth who later with his
Indian relatives "fought like a lion" (Tasse) on the
Plains of Abraham, did valiantly by his young uncle 's
side on the Monongahela. Like other French mixed-
bloods of intelligence, at the close of the war he
''cheerfully rallied under his old enemies the Brit-
ish," and with his uncle de Langlade was active in
keeping the northwest Indians faithful to England's
interests during the Revolutionary war. For his ser-
vices during this war he was rewarded with a cap-
tain's commission under Hamilton. On the surrender
of the latter to Clark, Gautier left the army, and
eventually, like others of his family, became a loyal


Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides

American citizen. He married first a Winnebago girl,
and later Miss Madeleine Chevallier, a ''woman of
rare beauty." His "numerous descendants at Green
Bay and Prairie du Chien" "rank with the best of
the old families there," says Thwaites. In his ex-
treme old age he wrote (in pretty bad French) a nar-
rative of a journey he had earlier made to the upper

Gautier de Vierville's eldest daughter married
Michel Brisebois, a wealthy trader of Prairie du
Chien, and in her home, in that village of metis, the
aged campaigner died.

The sons of Charles de Langlade by his Indian
wife Domitilde took an active part on the English side
in the war of 1812. His grandson, Louis Grignon, held
a Lieutenant's commission under Col. Dickson in that
war. Great Britain being then in actual possession
of Wisconsin, nearly all the metis of that region held
British commissions during that conflict. Unlike the
French habitants and voyageurs of Illinois and Ind-
iana, who had gone over to the patriots during the
Revolution, they were closely bound by blood and
social ties to the French subjects of Great Britain in
Montreal (Campbell, op. cit.), and therefore were in
favor of Great Britain. We have seen Louis Grignon
holding a British commission at this time. Another
grandson of de Langlade, Augustin Grignon, held a
captain's commission and took part in the capture of
Fort McKay at Prairie du Chien in 1814. Louis
Grignon had long had a trading establishment at that


Our Debt to the Red Man

post and was Indian agent of the western district for
the British Government. His correspondence book,
which he kept in French, was given by his grandson,
Charles Grignon of Green Bay, to the Wisconsin
Historical Society.

Col. McDowell, the British commander of the
Fort at Prairie du Chien, wrote to Gen. Drummond
from Miehilimacinac in 1814 that he had appointed
Mr. Joseph Rolette, Mr. Anderson and Mr. (Louis)
Grignon of Green Bay to be Captains of volunteers,
and that the two former had raised 63 men in two
days. It was not long after this, however, that Louis
Grignon wrote to Barthelotte from ''La Bale Verte"
(May 18, 1815) ''by the Gazette we see that we are
ceded to the Americans." He evidently became a
good American, like the rest of his family. In 1821
the young American civilian who afterward became
Gen. Ellis, U. S. A., went to Green Bay to be teacher
of English in the school founded by the five Grignon
brothers, metis grandsons of Charles de Langlade, who
saw the importance of the English language for the
rising generation. The "most princely hospitality"
of Augustin Grignon, whose permanent home was at
Grand Kakalin, made a deep impression upon the
future general officer.

The innate refinement and charm which such
mixed-bloods inherited from their French ancestry
was an important element in the crude civilization of
the northwest.


Metis op^ Noble Blood on Both Sides

The traveller Farnham writes ("Western Trav-
els," 18: 39) of the mixed-blood wife and beautiful
children of a half-pay officer of French extraction,
M. Paimbrun, adding that Mme. Paimbrun had
''shown great kindness to Marcus Whitman." Even
so late as 1885 the author of ' ' The Wonderland Eoute
to the Pacific," writing of Miles City, then a town of
3000 inhabitants, observes that ''the few ladies that
keep chivalry alive in the small community are mostly
of the aboriginal stock, ' ' their mothers or grandmoth-
ers having married Frenchmen. Mrs. Kinzie in her
fascinating story of the beginnings of Chicago
("Waubun") tells of Mrs. Mitchell, the "extremely
pretty and delicate" French-Sioux wife of a Scotch
physician settled at Michilimackinac, who had been ' ' a
great belle at Fort Crawford in her youth," and of
her three daughters, half Scotch and half French-
Indian, who, "handsome, attractive and charming,"
says their younger contemporary Mrs. Baird of Green
Bay, had been educated in Europe.

Full of charm are the "Reminiscences of Life in
Territorial Wisconsin," by this Mrs. Elizabeth Therese
Baird, whose maternal grandmother, Misigan (Marie)
Mascotte, wife of the trader George Schindler, was a
French-Ottawa, and whose metisse mother Adrienne
Lesaliere, Mme. Schindler 's daughter by a former
marriage, opened the first boarding school for girls in
the Northwest (teaching reading, writing, sewing and
general housekeeping) ; who herself at the age of four-
teen was married to a young American lawyer of


Our Debt to the Red Man

Green Bay and lived there till her death in 1890.
Mrs. Baird tells how on their arrival in Green Bay
the young couple were met by Mr. Louis Grignon,
(long before this a loyal American citizen), who
spoke little English but excellent French, but whose
manners were delightful; how Mme. Grignon spoke
neither English nor French, but only Chippewa. She
dwells on the '^ extreme gentleness and politeness" of
Mme. Augustin Grignon, whose daughter spoke no
English when married to an American who spoke no
French by Justice of the Peace Porlier, who also spoke
no English. The Grignon house was ''full of hand-
some daughters,'"' those Misses Grignon of Green Bay
upon whose charm and good breeding Mrs. Kinzie had
expatiated. The description of the large circle of
inter-related Grignons, Porliers, Viands, La Fram-
boises and Rolettes (Joseph Rolette, a man of note,
Therese's godfather, of whom we shall see much, had
married her elder sister), all prosperous, all persons
of influence in the pleasantly developing settlement,
all apparently able in case of emergency to fall back
on one or another Indian tongue when French or
English failed, gives a charming glimpse into a prim-
itive society characterized by industry, simplicity and
refinement. Not a few, both men and women, had
been educated in Europe, or at least in Montreal ; yet
the little fourteen year old bride would certainly
have occasion to feel no sense of inferiority when,
notwithstanding her mother's boarding school and
the Boys ' Academy of her grandfather Schindler, hus-


Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides

band of the Ottawa grandmother, her lawyer husband
was fain to induct her into the intricacies of written
and printed English.

It is doubtless due to the inherent grace and
charm of French mixed-blood women that marriages
between them and whites of good standing are hardly
yet a thing of the past. The first cousin of former
Vice-president Fairbanks married a metisse of the
Chippewa tribe and we shall shortly peep in at the
wedding of a brother of a future President of the
United States and a lovely and highly cultured French
mixed-blood girl.

A noted instance of a family of noble French
blood not only marrying into an Indian tribe, but
entirely identifying itself with it, greatly to the ad-
vantage of the civilization of the tribe, is that of Lu-
cien Fontanelle. Chittenden in his ' ' Fur Trade, ' ' de-
scribes him as "one of the best examples of Rocky
Mountain 'partisan' leaders of brigades of itinerant
hunters and trappers, believed to have been of royal
lineage." More probably his mother was the daugh-
ter of the Marquis de Fontanelle whose estates were
near Marseilles. His parents emigrated to Louisiana
in the end of the eighteenth century, and not long
afterward lost their lives in a flood and hurricane,
while their son and daughter were with relatives in
New Orleans. In his sixteenth year Louis ran away
to seek his fortune, reached Nebraska, and was em-
ployed by the American Fur Company, About 1824
he took to wife the daughter of On-pa-ton-ga (Big


Our Debt to the Red Man

Elk), Chief of the Omaha tribe (who adopted Joseph
La Flesche). From this union five children were
born. The son Logan was educated in St. Louis, and
on the death of On-pa-ton-ga in 1846 became the head
chief of the Omahas.''

Logan Fontanelle made the most of his education
and position for the betterment of his tribe, zealously
safe-guarding their rights in treaties with the Govern-
ment, and having many dealings with the early white
settlers, who gave his name to the town of Fontanelle,
Neb. Logan's Creek is also called after him. He was
killed by the Sioux in June, 1855, while on a hunting
expedition. His youngest brother, Henry, was ap-
pointed United States Interpreter, and was also Gov-
ernment Farmer on the Reservation, instructing the
Indian agent as to the best methods of dealing with
tlie Indians and inducing them to work. He died in
1899. All the four brothers and the sister, Su>san
Fontanelle, wlio married the half-blood Louis Neals,
were educated, and all used their influence toward
civilizing and advancing the status of the Omahas.
A number of their descendants are now living in

3 So the Rev. N. A. Sliine, wlio is a missionary among these iit'Oi>U'.
The La Flesche family dispute this assertion, on the ground that
their father, Josej)!! La Flesche (Estimaza, Iron Eye), was
adopted by Big Elk. The cases of adopted sons being chosen
to be chief are many, and it is not necessary to decide the
question here. The La Flesches have distinguished themselves
in many lines of noble service. The Fontanelles have remained
with the tribe and are evidently doing good work for their people.


State Archeologist of New York, President
of the Society of American Indians, Editor
of the American Indian Magazine, etc.

See p. 179


French-Indians as Mediators

THE Cadotte family is another instance of metis
in whose veins runs noble blood both Indian
and French. Sons of the last French Com-
mandant at Fort Ste. Marie du Sault, Jean Baptiste
Cadotte and his wife Anastatic, daughter of Keech-ki-
mun, Chief of the Objibways, Jean Baptiste and
Michel Cadotte were educated at Montreal, and mar-
ried into their mother's tribe. The elder, Jean Bap-
tiste, was the peacemaker between the Objibways
(Chippewas) and the British and American author-
ities. "^

He was explorer as well, the first to open to trade
and settlement an important domain. Having inher-
ited 40,000 francs from his father, the Commandant,
he had at once gone into the fur trade, but his gen-
erosity to his Indian relatives soon impoverished him.
The leading fur trader of that day, Alexander Henry,
a friend and partner of Cadotte 's father, lent him a
large sum of money — a loan which in after years he
repaid — and equipping himself anew he started in
1792 for the then almost unknown headwaters of the
Mississippi, accompanied by his brother Michel and a
party of sixty trappers, coureurs and Indians. This
was the country of the Dakotas (Sioux), and many

^ Supra, p. 42.


Our Debt to the Red Man

were the disagreements between this tribe and the Ob-
jib ways, many the dangerous moments averted by the
courage and wisdom of the two brothers. The imme-
diate result was the establishment of important posts
in the extreme north of what are now Wisconsin and

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Online LibraryLouise Seymour HoughtonOur debt to the red man; the French-Indians in the development of the United States → online text (page 5 of 14)