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Welcome To Crow Wing County
- - Our French Canadians (1850-1870) - -

"Our French Canadians"

BY EARL C. LESLIE

PART I

      The settlement of Crow Wing, which began in 1839, had a history of about forty years. From 1839 to 1844, it was primarily a fur trading post where William Aitkin traded merchandise to the Indians for furs. He also employed quite a number of French Canadian and mixed bloods (French Canadian and Indian) who acted as voyageurs by traveling up surrounding lakes rivers, and streams to trade on his behalf with the natives.

      In 1845, the East Woods Trail was opened from Pembina in the Red River Valley to St. Paul. Crow Wing then became a favorite stopping place for the long caravans of ox cart teams that travel led south each summer hauling buffalo hides, furs and pemmican and afterwards returned north laden with food staples, manufactured goods, liquor, guns, and ammunition.

      With the signing of the Fond du Lac and Leech Lake treaties in 1847, Ojibwa), lands north of the Crow Wing, Long Prairie, and Lea+ Rivers were opened for lumbering. Franklin Steele of St. Anthony, negotiated an agreement with Chief Hole-in-the-Day II, whereby his representative, David Stanchfield, was allowed to cut logs at .50 per tree. Logging at Crow Wing began in November 1847. The first log drive down the Mississippi to St. Anthony took place on March 1, 1848. The advent of lumbering brought in more French Canadians from Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

      Lumbering and the fur trade were the two main industries at Crow Wing for the next twelve years. By 1860, Crow Wing had a population of over two hundred and was ranked as the largest inhabited place north of St. Paul. This expansion ended in 1861 when the Civil War began. The Sioux outbreak of 1862, and the Ojibway troubles of the same year, frightened people so that even after the Civil War ended in 1865, few were interested in coming here.

      The removal of the Ojibway Indians from Crow Wing, Gull River, and Gull Lake and North Long Lake to White Earth Reservation in 1868, was disheartening. The fur trade was now over but the citizens of Crow Wing hoped that the newly chartered Northern Pacific Railroad would be built to their town and provide more employment and growth. Unfortunately for them, the Northern Pacific decided to run its line where a new town called Brainerd was built in 1870-71. Brainerd became the county seat in 1872 and many of the businesses at Crow Wing moved there. Residents too began moving elsewhere during 1873-74. Some went to Brainerd, many of the French Canadians to Little Falls, while most of the mixed bloods joined their relatives at White Earth. By 1879-80, old Crow Wing was almost a deserted ghost town.

      In the census of 1850, for Crow Wing, we find the following names denoting French Canadian heritage or French Canadian-Ojibway heritage:
                        
P. A. Moran Lumberman New Brunswick
Joseph Teasroux Clerk Missouri
Joseph Couverette Laborer Minnesota
Eustace Jourdain Laborer Minnesota
Clement Beaulieu Trader Wisconsin
Antoine Bisson Laborer Quebec
Antoine Benoit Laborer Quebec
Jacques Currier Laborer Quebec
Joseph Beaulieu InterpreterWisconsin
Augustin BellangerVoyageur Minnesota
Joseph Bellanger Voyageur Minnesota
Charles Charette Laborer Minnesota
Joseph Contois Voyageur Minnesota
Joseph Montreuil Laborer Minnesota

      The 1850 census for St. Columbia, East Gull Lake, has one name:

Baptiste La Salle Lumbering Wisconsin

      The 1860 census for Crow Wing contains the following names denoting French, French Canadian or French Canadian-Ojibway heritage:

Clement Beaulieu Merchant Wisconsin
Henry Beaulieu Voyageur Wisconsin
Jacques Currier Servant Quebec
Cyrillo Dunard Servant Quebec
Mary Colombe Servant Minnesota
Joseph Dagol Blacksmith Quebec
Narcisse Gravelle Carpenter Quebec
Cyrillo Beaudette Wagon MakerOntario
John Fumadi Sailor France?
A. L. Crapotte Merchant New York
Joseph Teasroux Merchant Missouri
Francois Thibaud Teamster Quebec
Joseph Laporte Laborer Quebec
Charles La Rue Saloon New York
Michael Contois Voyageur Minnesota
Jonah Contois Voyageur Minnesota
Louis Mayrand Saloon Quebec
Eli Berthniaud Laborer Quebec
Moses Dupuis Laborer Quebec
Jules Le Duc Shingle MakerQuebec
Andrew Dufort Carpenter Quebec
Laurent Darupt Blacksmith France?
Joseph Tescely Carpenter Ontario
Peter Roy Merchant Minnesota
Lxdia Choumard Servant Quebec
Gideon Le Sage Store ClerkQuebec
Peter Lecotte Teamster Quebec
Antoine BourgeiousTeamster Quebec

      The 1860 census for South Long Lake had these names:

Joseph Brunette Lumbering Minnesota
Louis Brunette Lumbering Minnesota
Francois Brunette Lumbering Minnesota
Antoine Ragoff Lumbering Michigan

      The 1860 census for St. Columbia, East Gull Lake had these names:

Alexis Roy Laborer Minnesota
Joseph Charette Laborer Minnesota

      The 1870 census for Crow Wing has the following names denoting French Canadian or French Canadian Ojibway heritage:

Clement Beaulieu Farmer Wisconsin
Henry Beaulieu Laborer Wisconsin
Jacques Currier Servant Quebec
Susette Jourdain Servant Minnesota
Josette CharboullierWidow Michigan
Francoise BellecourtWidow Minnesota
Elizabeth CharetteWidow Minnesota
Louis Charette Laborer Minnesota
Cyrillo Beaudette Wagon MakerOntario
Francois Thibaud Laborer Quebec
Antoine BourgeiousTeamster Quebec
John Bishop Hotel OwnerNew Brunswick
Charles Pardee Grocer Quebec
Charles Gravelle Carpenter Quebec
Nazair Moran Ferryman Quebec
Alan St. Antoine Laborer Quebec
John Dufort Laborer Wisconsin

Visit RootsWeb    <http://www.rootsweb.com/~mncrowwi/ofc.html> Nov 24, 2002
MnGenWeb - Crow Wing County - Our French Canadians (1850-1870)
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