Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Many-Cadotte Problem, Part 3: Sorting Out the Jean-Baptistes

Like virtually every other Quebec family, the Cadots/Cadottes had several Jean-Baptistes in every generation, including my famous 5G Grandfather (1723-1803). His son Jean-Baptiste fils (the older brother of my 4G Grandfather Michel Cadot/Cadotte of LaPointe) is fairly well documented—up to 1803, when he was ousted from the North West Company on the grounds that he was a perpetual drunkard. (He wasn’t—although there is no question but that he was a heavy drinker at times—but I suspect his real offenses were that he was independent-minded, non-British, and had quaint notions about trading fairly with the Indians.) After 1803, the records are spotty for Jean-Baptiste—although there were at least two Jean-Baptistes active in the fur trade after 1803 who “could be” my 5G uncle. Who were his wife and children? What happened to him?

When I first began my investigation, I already knew that Michel’s brother Jean-Baptiste had in fact married because Michel’s grandson William Whipple Warren (in his History of the Ojibway People) mentioned the wives of the two brothers accompanying their husbands on a particularly memorable trading expedition. This is the sort of inside family information that tends to be true, particularly when it’s only a generation or two from the people involved.

I had been unable to find precise information as to his date and place of death, although everyone was assuming that he was the husband of one Saugimagua, “widow of Jean-Baptiste Cadotte” who with her five children “Louison, Sophia, Archangel, Edward, and Polly” were listed among the mixed-bloods who were to receive benefits under the 1826 Treaty of St. Peter’s. I don’t like assumptions; I wanted real proof.

Poking around online, I found several online family trees which stated that Michel’s brother married in 1776, at Oka. Oka, for those of you who don’t know, is at Lac des Deux Montagnes in Quebec, right along the primary water route from Quebec to Mackinac and the Lake Superior region and therefore an important focal point in getting furs from le pays d’en haut to now-British-ruled Quebec.

Naturally I investigated the microfilm for Oka and found the marriage record. The 1776 bride of a Jean-Baptste Cadot at Oka was an Indian woman named Marie-Anne Ikwesens (meaning simply “young girl”), sauteuse (in this era, this meant Ojibwe). A number of people who found this record instantly assumed that her husband, Jean-Baptiste Cadot, “had to be” Michel’s brother, unaware of or ignoring two inconvenient facts: first, that in 1776 the elder son of Jean-Baptiste père and Athanasie was only 15 and was still at school in Montréal, and second, that Michel’s father and brother were not the only Jean-Baptiste Cadots living at that time. However, by the time I realized this, I had already traced the family of the 1776 Oka couple forward and located the records of their children; I discovered that the couple had wound up in L’Assomption parish in Quebec.

If you look for that 1776 Cadot marriage record online at, you won’t find it, at least not yet. (Ancestry's records for Oka begin in 1786.) On the Family History Library microfilm, however, there is a typed transcription of the record which states that the 1776 bridegroom Jean-Baptiste Cadot was the son of Charles Cadot and Denise Thouin, making that Jean-Baptiste a first cousin once removed to my ancestor Michel Cadotte and his brother Jean-Baptiste. Problem solved? Not quite. I still wanted to find the actual records of my 5G uncle and his wife and children.

Now, then, I found another reference online to a Jean-Baptiste Cadotte who in 1808 married at Oka a woman recorded as Marie-Jean [sic] Piquet. The couple are stated to have had a prior civil ceremony at Sault Ste Marie—the place where Jean-Baptiste père had lived (when not traveling on business). (The Mackinac mission registers are spotty at best in this era, but they do include civil marriage records presided over by Justices of the Peace at Mackinac from January 1800-February 1804. Unfortunately, no records of civil marriages at Sault Ste Marie from that era seem to have survived.)

Naturally I looked up the actual 1808 church marriage record. The 1808 Jean-Baptiste is described as being in charge of the (trade goods and furs) warehouse at Oka—an important position—and as the interpreter for the (English) king at St. Joseph. The record does in fact state what the online source said it does. Unfortunately, neither his parents nor hers are named in the record.

There are a number of “St. Joseph” locations which were important in the fur trade at various times, but I rather think this particular St. Joseph was Fort St. Joseph on St. Joseph Island in Lake Huron, in what is now Ontario. Construction of the fort began there in 1796 as a hoped-for rival and/or replacement for Mackinac Island (aka Michilimackinac), which had been awarded to the new United States by the Treaty of Paris at the conclusion of the American Revolution. Fort St. Joseph, which remained unfinished, undermanned, and poorly equipped with out-of-date weapons, was captured and burned by the Americans during the War of 1812. (The fort was undefended because its entire garrison was away capturing the Americans’ Fort Michilimackinac at the time. Odd things happen in wartime.)

But in 1808, Fort St. Joseph was a thriving fur-trade center for Canadian companies in the Great Lakes region. The services of an interpreter were often vital to insure that trade terms at the fort were considered fair by the Indians and thereby to keep the furs flowing from the Lake Superior area and points west into British-controlled Canada. I think this is the St. Joseph where the 1808 bridegroom Jean-Baptiste Cadot worked, and my 5G uncle of that name was certainly well qualified as an interpreter and, equally important, highly respected by the Indians of the Great Lakes region.

Now then: as mentioned above, the 1826 Treaty allocated land for mixed-blood relatives of Chippewa in the affected area, which was eastern Michigan; the schedule included: “To Saugemauqua, widow of the late John Baptiste Cadotte, and to her children, Louison, Sophia, Archangel, Edward, and Polly, one section each.” The treaty does not give any information about Saugimauqua’s husband other than the name and the fact that he had died before the treaty was drawn up. Note, however, that the treaty does not say that all the children are the children of Jean-Baptiste, and in fact, the treaty benefits are to be given to her and her children (as opposed to his children or their children). Most people naturally assume that all of the children were fathered by Jean-Baptiste.

Fortunately for us (although not for the people named in the 1826 Treaty), this portion of the 1826 treaty was never ratified and therefore the land was never allotted. However, two later treaties were made where the mixed-blood relations of the Ottawas and Chippewas living in the affected area were to receive cash payments. The register of claimants for the first treaty, dated 28 March 1836 ( (an outright sale of land) has been transcribed and organized by NISHNAWBE list member Larry M. Wyckoff, is online. Most of that money went to prominent white fur traders and their mixed-blood families.

On 29 July 1837, the US negotiated yet another treaty at St. Peters, wherein the Chippewa of Lake Superior were to cede a large portion of their traditional hunting grounds in the Wisconsin Territory, and again the Chippewa insisted on a share of the treaty money for their mixed-blood relatives. This time a former senator, Lucius Lyons, was placed in charge of vetting the mixed-blood applicants, with payment to be made in summer 1839. He did his vetting beginning in mid-July of that year and the payments were made at the end of September. The applications and the supporting documents have been preserved among the Lucius Lyons Papers in the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Now, I live a long way from Michigan and haven’t seen the originals, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, Theresa M. Schenck (who is also my cousin through this line of Cadottes), has published the 1839 applications, with additional information about each and whether the application was accepted or rejected. The book is All Our Relations (Amik Press: Madison, Wisconsin 2009). And from this genealogical gold mine I was able to sort the family of Jean-Baptiste Cadotte and Jeannette Piquet/Saugimagua.

Theresa has learned that Jean-Baptiste and his wife separated about 1810: he plunged back into the active fur trade, while his wife went back to Sault Ste Marie with her three surviving children fathered by Jean-Baptiste. These were: 1. Marie-Archange, parents living at Sault Ste Marie, born about March 1797 and baptized at Oka in April 1804; 2. Louis-Jean-Baptiste “Louison”, parents living at Sault Ste Marie, born about January 1802 and baptized at Oka in April 1805; 3. Edward, for whom no birth or baptism record has been found. My guess is that he was born shortly before or after his parents separated. (There had been another daughter, Charlotte, born in 1806, but she died at Oka a year later.) These children appear in the 1826 treaty addendum as Archangel, Louis, and Edward.

At Sault Ste Marie, Jeannette (quite legally) continued to use the surname Cadotte, but by Native American standards she was now free to pursue other relationships. These relationship resulted in two daughters by other men. The relationship with Lewis Johnston resulted in the birth of a daughter named Sophia, who is listed in the 1839 Mixed-Blood Register as Sophia Johnston, child of “Louis Johnston and a 1/2 breed Chippewa”. Jeannete's relationship with one John Drew resulted in the birth of another daughter, listed in the 1836 register as Polly Drew, age 19, “illegitimate child of Mde. (Madame) Plaint”. (In July 1834 mother Jeannette had married Joseph Sauvé dit Plante.) The mother of all 5 young adults also applied, under her new married name of Mrs. Jeannette Sove. Her age is given as 64.

With all this information, it’s pretty clear that the Jean-Baptiste who married Jeannette Piquette at Oka in 1808 is the father of 3 of Jeannette’s surviving children. But was he the brother of my 4G Grandfather Michel Cadotte of La Pointe?

Their father, the most famous of the Jean-Baptiste Cadots, is well documented as having always had his headquarters at Sault Ste. Marie. Sometime before 1800, after his sons took over the business, the old man retired permanently to Sault Ste. Marie, where he died about 1803. Jeannette’s Jean-Baptiste clearly spent a lot of time at the Sault in this time frame; children Marie-Archange and Louis-Jean-Baptist (and probably others who did not survive) were born there.

In 1803, when Jean-Baptiste fils was forced out of the North West Company; he went to Sault Ste Marie to help settle his father’s affairs and to keep an eye on the family business at that end of the Great Lakes. Jean-Baptiste is known to have made a trip to Montréal about 1805—which would have meant passing through Oka. It is extremely plausible that he started his journey in the spring of 1804 and took his family with him to Montréal, stopping at Oka to get his 2 children baptized. On his way back to the US by 1806, it is not unreasonable that he might have accepted a job offer at Oka and resettled his family there. It would appear, however, that settling down permanently was not in his nature; he apparently he died somewhere in le pays d’en haut before the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac.

No one has cited documentary evidence of the exact date and place of his death. This does not mean he was abducted by aliens. It only means that he didn’t die near a church and his death therefore wasn’t documented with a burial record. This is not surprising, since from the American Revolution through the early 1830s, missions and missionaries (Catholic or Protestant) west of what is now Wisconsin were very scarce. However, in 1823 Jean-Baptiste’s brother Michel testified in regard to family land rights at Sault Ste Marie that his brother Jean-Baptiste had died "about 1818". I accept my 4G grandfather’s testimony because he was notable for his honesty and integrity, and was certainly in a position to know about his brother’s death.

But wait! In 1784 (8 years after their marriage at Oka) the older Jean-Baptiste Cadotte’s wife “Marie-anne . . . Sauvagesse” died and was buried at L’Assomption in Quebec. (L’Assomption was a major jumping-off point for recruiting voyageurs and the start of their journey west.) In 1786, Jean-Baptiste Cadot “veuf [widower] de marie anne Squagamikois” remarried, to Ursule Chaput. Isn’t “Squagamikois” the same name as that of the woman Saugemauqua who benefited from the treaty?

Well, yes, I think it probably is (given the fact that there was no standardized spelling of Indian names at the time), but it’s clearly not the same woman. Even though the Jean-Baptiste who married in 1776 also died before 1826, before the treaty was signed (specifically, he died at L’Assomption in 1822), his Squagamikois had died in 1784.

So few people are awarded any kind of benefit at all 40-plus years after death!

Besides, in order to benefit from the treaty, you had to live in the area specified in the treaty. The woman who married in 1776 clearly didn’t, and neither did her children, whose names don’t match the ones listed in the treaty anyway.

I conclude that the fact that Marie-Anne and Marie-Jean Piquet had similar or identical Anishinaabe names is sheer coincidence. If you discover records for two James Smiths who worked in the electronics industry in Los Angeles, one in 1970 and one in 2002, each with a wife named Cathy and several young children at the time, is it safe to say both records are for the same family? Of course not. Very few women have children over a span of more than 30 years, even if they marry young. And neither "James Smith" nor "Cathy" is exactly a rare name.

Which brings us back to the question, is the Jean-Baptiste who married Janette Piquet/Saugimaqua the brother of my 4G Grandfather Michel Cadotte of La Pointe? I think the overwhelming weight of the evidence says “yes”. He’s certainly the Jean-Baptiste whose widow and children should have benefited from the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac, and who did benefit from the later treaty. Everything we know about him and about my 5G uncle meshes nicely. He had plenty of ties to Sault Ste Marie at least until about 1806 and his children stayed in that area. Moreover, as Theresa Schenck noted, the house of the Piquette family that lived at Sault Ste Marie was adjacent to the Cadotte property: what more natural but that Jean-Baptiste fils should marry the girl next door?

In short, I believe this Jean-Baptiste is in fact the brother of my 4G Grandfather Michel. Since it is highly unlikely that any other hard evidence about his life and death exists, I’m sure enough about it to enter him in my genealogy files that way.

Was all my time prowling through the parish records at Mackinac, Oka, and L’Assomption a waste of time, then? Definitely not. The family history of the older Jean-Baptiste who married at Oka in 1776 turned out to be critical to identifying my Great-Grandfather Vincent Dufauld’s maternal grandmother. I’m sure of the identification, but Proof Absolute doesn’t exist—simply because she was baptized by Father Baraga at La Pointe instead of by a French priest. I’ll tell you about that another time.

Other Cadotte researchers are still working on other aspects of the Many-Cadotte Problem, looking for Proof Absolute regarding their specific ancestral Cadot/Cadotte. One of these days I expect I’ll get back into that fray. You see, one of the fascinations of genealogy is that there is never an absolute end to the process. You never know when some hitherto-unknown or unnoticed document will turn up that enables you to take one line a generation farther back, or that will cast new light on an ancestor that you’ve already found.

1 comment:

  1. I very much enjoyed reading this post. I have also been trying to track down this very same Jean Baptiste Cadotte. It is my belief that before his marriage to Jeanne Pichette/Saugimagua he conducted a country marriage ca 1785 which resulted in the birth of at least two daughters. My 2nd great grandmother's parents were James Keith (NW Co. & HBC) and a woman he identified only as the 2d daughter of Jean Baptiste Cadotte.
    I am curious if you know of any autosomal DNA studies involving descendants of the Cadottes.
    Ellen Paul