- Viola (Ollie) Hoffman, b. 2 Dec 1916, Myrtle Point Coos OR
- Constance Hoffman b. 24 Oct 1918, Broadbent Coos OR, d. 5 Mar 1922, Myrtle Point Coos OR
- Wilmot Hoffman, b. 5 Nov 1920, Myrtle Point Coos OR
- Howard Edmond Hoffman, b. 18 Dec 1922, Myrtle Point Coos OR, d. 3 Dec 1944, World War II Radarman 3c killed in action
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Time to dig into the Montour side of the Bird/Montour/Flett Family:
James Curtis Bird married Elizabeth Montour and they had 9 children - the fourth of whom was Chloe Bird who married James Flett and brought the family to Oregon.
Elizabeth Montour was born on March 30, 1821 in Red River Settlement, Ruperts Land, Canada.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Nicholas Montour Jr. and a native American born about 1789 in Edmonton Canada who died on November 1, 1834 in Winnipeg.
Nicholas Montour Jr was the son of Nicholas Montour see below
Nicholas Montour 1756 to August 6, 1808 was the son of Andrew Montour 1720 to 1772
Andrew Montour was the son of Carondawanna, an Oneida war chief and Elizabeth Catherine "Madame" Montour see below
Elizabeth Catherine "Madame" Montour was the daughter of Pierre Couc
Pierre Couc dit LaFleur 1624 m 1657 to Marie Miteouamigoukoue (Mite8ameg8k8e)
Nicholas Montour (1756 – August 6, 1808) was a fur trader, seigneur and political figure in Lower Canada.
He was born in the province of New York in 1756, the son of Andrew Montour and Sarah Ainse, and the grandson of Madame Montour. In 1774, he was employed as a clerk in the fur trade by Joseph and Benjamin Frobisher on the Churchill River in what is now Manitoba and later worked in what is now Saskatchewan. Montour owned shares in the North West Company. In 1792, he retired from the fur trade and settled at Montreal; he became a member of the Beaver Club there. In 1794, he bought the Montreal Distillery Company from Isaac Todd and his partners. In 1795, he purchased the seigneuries of Pointe-du-Lac (also known as Normanville or Tonnancour) and Gastineau. Montour also owned land along the Thames River in Upper Canada, which he inherited from his mother. He also purchased and later sold the seigneuries of Pierreville and Rivière-David (also called Deguire). In 1796, Montour was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada for Saint-Maurice. He was named a justice of the peace for Trois-Rivières district in 1799. In the same year, he took up residence at Pointe-du-Lac.
He died on the seigneury of Pointe-du-Lac in 1808 and was buried at Trois-Rivières.
Andrew Montour (c. 1720–1772), also known as Henry Montour, Sattelihu, and Eghnisara, was an important métis interpreter and negotiator in the Virginia and Pennsylvania backcountry in the 1750s and 1760s.
Montour's date of birth is unknown; historian James Merrell estimated it to be 1720. Montour was of European and Native American ancestry. His mother was Madame Montour, a well-known, influential interpreter whose exact identity is uncertain; she was probably of French and Native ancestry. She spoke several languages and often served as an interpreter between Europeans and Native Americans. Andrew Montour's father was Carondawanna, an Oneida war chief.
Montour shared his mother's gift for languages. He spoke French, English, Delaware, Shawnee, and at least one of the Iroquoislanguages. Comfortable with both Native Americans and Europeans, he made a good living as a translator for several colonial governments. In 1742 when Count Zinzendorf met Montour he wrote that Montour looked "decidedly European, and had his face not been encircled with a broad band of paint we would have thought he was one."
In 1745 he accompanied Weiser and Shikellamy on a mission to Onondaga where the federal capital of the Iroquois confederation was established. In 1748 Weiser recommended Montour as a person especially qualified to act as an interpreter or messenger and Montour was presented to the Pennsylvania council of the proprietary government.
Throughout the French and Indian War Montour sided with the British and worked, at various times, for Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Sir William Johnson's Indian Department. He was with George Washington before the battle at Fort Necessity, and was also one of the few Native Americans to travel with Edward Braddock. So strong was his influence with tribes in the Ohio River Valley that the French put a bounty on his head. Montour was murdered by a Seneca Indian in 1772.
Andrew had a number of children, who he hoped would also live in both white and Native American worlds. His son John Montourfollowed in his footsteps and became a well-known negotiator, translator and go-between.
Montour, Elizabeth Catherine (Madam)
Born: c.1667, in Trois Rivières, Quebec
Died: c.1750, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Abstract: Madam Montour, a mixed French and Indian woman, was probably born around 1667 in Trois Rivières, Quebec. While most of the documentation of her life is contradictory, it is widely accepted that she was raised by an Indian tribe after the age of ten. As an adult, she interpreted between the Indian tribes and the English colonies, making peace possible between the starkly different cultures. Her famous son, Andrew Montour, continued her work after her death. A Pennsylvania county, town, stream, and mountain are all named for her, honoring her work easing the strain between Indian and colonial life. She died around 1753 in Harrisburg.
Elizabeth Catherine Montour, more widely known as Madam Montour, was born around 1667 at Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Much of her biography is unknown or debatable. This uncertainty extends even to her first name, which is most widely assumed to be Elizabeth Catherine. Her father was most likely Pierre Couc, a Frenchman, and her mother was an Algonquin whose name is unknown. Montour said that she was kidnapped by either the Iroquois or the Five Nation Indians as a ten-year-old child after the tribe killed her father during war. She claimed to have been raised by her captors. Another account asserts that she was captured when she was an adult and living among the English. There is evidence suggesting that she spent the lion’s share of her youth in Michigan at Forts Mackinac and Detroit in the 1700s due to her family’s involvement in the Indian trade. Either way, exposure to native tribes led to her later prestige as an interpreter across Pennsylvania and New York.
It is assumed that Montour married the Seneca brave Roland Montour while living in the New York area, taking his surname. Little is known of him, their marriage, or his death. Some believe that Montour never married him at all, but instead carried the name “Montour” with her since birth. In about 1711, Montour moved to Albany where her brother Louis was serving as an interpreter. Within a year of Montour joining her brother in Albany, he was murdered while conducting trade. Because of her extensive knowledge of both Indian and English languages (English, German, Algonquin, Iroquois, and French), Montour remained in Albany to replace him. She was hired by Robert Hunter, Governor of New York, to aid in communication between the Indian tribes and the English colonies. Because Montour was illiterate, she was considered a “cultural broker,” mostly advising on the content of speeches and messages rather than composing them herself. In Ian Kenneth Steele and Nancy Lee Rhoden’s The Human Tradition in Colonial America, Montour is described as, “a complex and multi-faceted individual who moved easily between native and settler communities, facilitating informed communication between different cultures.” It is said that she attended conferences in Albany and Philadelphia, often using her influence to prevent wars. While her work between cultures was extremely successful for the English, it was detrimental to the French. The Governor of Canada tried to sway her allegiances and her abilities to the French side upon noticing her immense influence among the Indian tribes. The Governor even offered her a raise in compensation, which was notable since she was already being paid the same as a man. These attempts were unsuccessful since Montour was a known friend to the British.
During her time in Albany, Montour married an Oneida chief, Carondawanna. It is uncertain whether there were other marriages after Roland Montour and before Carondawanna, mostly because they may have occurred under Indian custom and therefore without record. Together Montour and Carondawanna moved to the village of Otstuagy, Pennsylvania, which would later be named Montoursville in her honor. She welcomed the British into town, while still serving to ease the strain of colonialism felt by the tribes in Pennsylvania. Montour was the mother to three famous children: Louis, Margaret, and Andrew Montour. Louis also served as an interpreter, but was killed during the French and Indian War; Margaret became the leader of a town close to Montoursville, named “French Margaret’s Town;” Andrew became an extremely important negotiator and interpreter in the Virginia and Pennsylvania regions. Andrew’s aid to tribes and settlers was so important that the French wanted him dead. Instead, he was murdered by a Seneca Indian in about 1772.
For at least the second time, Montour was widowed in the spring of 1729 when Carondawanna was killed fighting the Catawba in the Carolinas. Montour inherited the title of “Queen of the Iroquois” on the west branch of the Susquehanna and became an important leader of the Susquehanna River Valley, a popular stop for Moravian missionaries. She continued to rule the French and Indian town of Otstuagy. This mix led to a cultural hybrid, mixed with European and Indian customs. Count Zinzendorf, a Moravian missionary, writes about his experiences in Otstuagy: Records from Andrew Montour imply that Montour lost her sight while living with him during her later years.
Montour died between 1745 and 1753 probably near Harrisburg, then Harris’s Ferry. Montour County, town, stream, and mountain bear her name, recognizing the areas where her extensive influence on early colonial communication was prominent.
- Auken, Robin Van. “‘Madam’ Catherine Montour.” Historic Williamsport. 2007. Williamsport Sun Gazette. 26 Sept. 2008. .
- Hunter, William A. “COUC, ELIZABETH? (La Chenette, Techenet; Montour).” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Volume III. Ed. John English. 2003. University of Toronto/Université Laval. 29 Sept. 2008.
- Maggiemac. “Elizabeth Catherine Montour.” History of American Women. 8 Aug. 2008. 26 Sept. 2008. .
- Parmenter, Jon. “Isabel Montour: Cultural Broker on the Frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania.” The Human Tradition in Colonial America. Ed. Ian K. Steele and Nancy L. Rhoden Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999.
- Struble, George G. “Madam Montour, White Queen of the Iroqouis.” French Review 28 (May 1955): 498-502.
This biography was prepared by Stephanie Misko, Fall 2008.
Shortly after the founding of the first French settlement in Canada, Quebec City, a young French soldier by the name of Pierre Couc (also spelled Couck, etc.), born in Cognac, France, in 1624, arrived in the wilderness that Canada was then. Behind in Cognac, he
left his parents, Nicolas and Elizabeth Templair Couc of the La Fleur branch (in French, dit) of the Couc family.
Jesuit missionaries had been working with the Indians of the Huron Confederacy on Georgian Bay. In 1634 they had built their principal mission there. But in 1640 old enemies of the Hurons and their French allies, the Iroquois of New York, began a campaign to
destroy the Huron Confederacy, which they did in 1648-1650. It was to fight the Iroquois that young Pierre Couc was sent to New France (Canada) during these years. But the Iroquois succeeded in driving west of Lake Michigan the Hurons and all the interior Indians
friendly to the French.
More than their British counterparts in North America, the French intermarried with the Indians. Couc, who had settled in Trois Rivieres (Three Rivers) on the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Montreal, was married April 16, 1657, by the Jesuit priest,
Father Gagueneau, to Marie Metiwameghwahkwe of the Algonquin Nation.(She was probably a Huron.) The Dictionnaire Genealogique lists her birth date as 1631. [Another source lists the marriage year as 1647, but since there were no children until 1657 and then there were children at regular intervals, it would appear 1657 was the correct date.]
In 1652 Couc was still in the military. That year was an especially difficult one for New France. The Iroquois carried out a constant surveillance of the small boats which plied the St. Lawrence River. On May 21, across the river from Trois-Rivieres, soldier Couc was attacked and wounded. (Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Vol.VIII, p.29)
By 1660 Couc had left the military. On January 10, the Provost of Trois-Rivieres recorded that Pierre Dizy brought a lawsuit against Pierre Couc dit Lafleur, a former soldier of the garrison.(Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Vol. VI, p.94) That August a neighbor gained title to a stone wall which separated his property from that of Pierre Couc. (Our Canadian Ancestor, Vol.VII, p.189) About this time, the heirs of a man named Gille abandoned half of their real estate patrimony to Jacques Fournier dit Laville and Pierre Couc dit Fleur-de-Coignac. (Vol.VII, p.189, Our French-Canadian Ancestors) On March 4, 1662, Etienne deLafond rented a farm for five years from Madeline and Pierre "Coucq" dit Lafleur. (Vol.
VI, p.192 Our French Canadian Ancestors) On November 26, 1664, Pierre Boucher, Pierre Lefebvre, and Jean Cusson, sagacious men of their era, arbitrated a dispute between Father Jacques Fremin and Pierre Couc dit Lafleur. (Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Vol. VI, p.137.) The decade ended rather tragically for the Coucs: Jean Rattier dit DuBuisson murdered their daughter, Jeanne, in 1669. (Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Vol.IX, p.8)
A fort had been established at Trois-Rivieres in 1635. A 1663 map shows a mere fifty or so lots, one belonging to Couc. He was clearly one of the earliest residents. The land of the Couces was located on the southwestern corner of Rue St.Pierre and Rue St.Michel, two blocks from the "Fleuve St.Laurent" (St.Lawrence River).
Church records at Trois Rivieres and the Dictionnaire Genealogique show that the Couces had nine children: Jeanne, 1657, who was murdered in 1679; Louis, 1659, who in his adult life assumed the surname Montour; Angelique, 1661, who married a man named St.Corney in 1692; Marie, 1663; Marguerite, 1 June 1664, who married Jean Masse-Lafart dit Maconce or Macons (1657-1756), a famous coureur-des-bois who finally settled at Detroit, where he died at ninety-nine; Pierre, April 5, 1665, who was the father of Pierre III, born
5 April in St. Thomas, Pierreville; Elizabeth, 1667; Madeleine, born 1669, who married Maurice Menard; and Jean-Baptiste, born 1673, married Anne Sauvagesse, had a son JeanBaptiste II born 27 November 1706 at Lachine, now a suburb of Montreal.
The Dictionnaire Genealogique gives January 8, 1699 as the date of death for Marie Couc, but there is no date listed for Pierre Couc. A Jean Couc, who was married to Marguerite _______, may have been a brother of Pierre's. Jean's daughter Marie-Julienne, was born
13 April 1763 in Quebec.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Metis son of James Curtis Bird Sr., “Jemmy Jock” was born around 1798 at Sturgeon River north of Prince Albert. His father was a Chief Factor for the Hudson’s Bay Company and his mother Oomenahowish was Cree. Her husband called her Mary (after his sister). Mary died in 1806 shortly after the birth of her last son. James Sr. then married Elizabeth Montour the daughter of Nicholas Montour dit Bonhomme. His half- brother, Dr. Curtis James Bird was a member of Riel’s Council in 1870 then served as a Manitoba MLA.
James began a five-year apprenticeship in 1809 and started his education at the York Factory School of the Hudson's Bay Company. He attended this school with William Sinclair, a future brother-in-law whose brother James married Elizabeth Bird.
He spent his early years at Edmonton House, Rocky Mountain House and posts on the upper North Saskatchewan. Fluent in both Cree (from his mother) Michif, French and English from his stepmother as well as Blackfoot, he ranked as an interpreter by the time he left the company in 1821. He is reputed to have been fluent in eight languages. "Jimmy Jock" then lived with the Piikani or alternately, Peigan people, adopting their way of life and gaining great influence among them. In 1825 apparently married his Piikani wife Sally, baptized under the name Sarah, a marriage that was to last for over 65 years. She was the daughter of Bull’s Heart from Tete que Leve’s Band. They had the following children:
James, born c.1824;
John, born 1825, died Oct. 12, 1827;
William, born c. 1826;
Mary, born 1832, died before 1885;
Letitia, born 1834, named after his sister, died before 1885;
Maria, born 1836, died before 1885, named after his niece, Charles McKay’s eldest daughter;
Charles, born 1837, died before 1885;
Edward, born 1839, married Isabella Sinclair;
Nancy, born 1843, married Peter Knight (Medicine Shield), they lived on a Blackfoot Reservation;
Joseph, born 1845, married Sarah Louis;
Catherine, born 1846
Thomas, born 1849, married Isabelle Metaska-nik, daughter of Baptiste Metaska- nik and Isabelle Flamand; married Anne McKay;
Agnes, born 1850, married Thomas Hourie; died near Duck Lake
Alfred, born c. 1850;
Philip, born 1852, married Mary Kipling then Louise Lucier
His other wives were purportedly, Crane (mother of Susie “Ear Rings” Bird) and “Kills the Water” (mother of Annie “Long Time Good Success”). Charles Bird, born in 1837 was also thought to have been the son of Se-no-pa or “Kit Fox” in Blackfoot language. John Jackson, in his 2003 biography of Bird speculates that Jemmy Jock was also married to his wife’s sisters and may have had over 18 children.
He became recognized as a chief among the Piegans and, purportedly, had a number of Aboriginal wives. In the late 1820s, he received payments from the Hudson's Bay Company to encourage the Piegans to trade at Rocky Mountain House and Edmonton House.
In a dramatic about-face in 1831, he went to aid the American Fur Company in its efforts to establish trade on the Missouri with the Blackfoot nations: the Piegan, Blood and Blackfoot peoples. Two years afterwards, Governor George Simpson re-enlisted “Jim Jock” on the English company's side but they suspected he was still working for the Americans.
A fiercely independent man, Bird’s loyalties were more with the Aboriginal people than the trading companies. In 1841 Bird acted as a guide for the Sinclair Expedition, headed by his brother-in-law James Sinclair. Sinclair-led this group of Red River Half-Breed and Metis emigrants for the Columbia making a 1700-mile trip from White Horse Plains to Fort Vancouver and finally Fort Nisqually. Jemmy Jock Bird acted as their guide for the part of the journey that crossed Blackfoot territory. On October 12, 1841, after a 130 day journey the group reached Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. Bird accompanied the party from Carlton House taking them as far as the last Peigan post in the Rockies. His sisters Charlotte Flett, married to John Flett; Chloe Flett married to James Flett; Letitia McKay married to Charles McKay were among the Metis emigrants to the Oregon Territory in 1841.
He quit the Hudson's Bay Company in 1841 but was looking after Rocky Mountain House in 1847-48 when the post was closed. He was here when Paul Kane visited. Kane found him "trustworthy and hospitable." But two missionaries, Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet and the Reverend Robert Terrill Rundle, who at different times had engaged him as both guide and interpreter, found him "quite unreliable." In 1855, he acted as interpreter in the American treaty with the Blackfoot, signed at a site opposite the mouth of the Judith River near the ruins of Fort Chardon. In 1877, he filled the same role in Canada's negotiation of Treaty Number 7, signed at Blackfoot Crossing. “Jemmy Jock” died on the Blackfoot reservation in Montana in 1892.
He was described at this time as “a splendid specimen of the native race, he was over six feet tall, sinewy, athletic and handsome. The brown hair, steely blue eyes and sandy mustache derived from his Orcadian ancestry...”2.
On his way to join the Blackfeet he learned many different languages. He was widely known and everyone stayed clear of him because he was considered a dangerous man. He began working for the Hudson’s Bay Company as an apprentice in 1809. Over the years his greatest contributions were as a linguist and interpreter who spoke Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, Stony, Cree, Sarsee, Michif, English and French. By the 1820s he had become an agent for the HBC among the Blackfoot tribes. Bird earned quite a reputation for being a practical joker. His favourite trick was to leave a note tied to a stick at a campsite, which gave directions to another campsite, a treasure or some other great place. The next person to find the letter would usually end up on a wild goose chase following the false instructions. About the same time, he became known as Jemmy Jock. He also met the now famous artist Paul Kane. The subject of Kane’s paintings was the Blackfoot people, and Jemmy Jock was very helpful in teaching him about their customs.
Although many people did not trust Jimmy Jock, Kane found him to be very kind and generous. At the time bird was living in the vicinity of fort Benton working for the American Fur Company. In return for his favours, Kane helped Jemmy Jock get a position as an interpreter for the American Blackfeet treaty negotiations (1855). The Canadian government similarly, employed Bird for the Treaty Seven Blackfoot Crossing negotiations in 1877. Long before this Jemmy Jock had adopted the Blackfeet as his people, and in fact he was widely known as “the half-English Chief of the Piegans.”3
In the spring of 1856 Bird left the USA for Red River and settled on his old HBC grant that he had received forty years earlier. They lived on Lot 63 about 12 miles below the Forks on the east side of the Red River. In 1857 Sarah was baptized at St. Paul’s Anglican church and in 1859 their sons Thomas and Philip were baptized at the same church. It was at Red River where Humphrey Lloyd Hime of Henry Youle Hime’s expedition took a picture of their daughter Letitia in 1858.
At about the same time Bird sold his land to Schultz and relocated to Lots 280 and 287 in St. Andrews Parish. In 1874 the Birds along with son Philip and daughter-in-law Mary Kipling left Red River and headed for the Assiniboine Agency in the USA then to Bow River and the Metis community of Blackfoot Crossing. By 1876 they were living near Battle River at Buffalo Lake. On May 21, 1885 they came to Calgary and made their claims before the Scrip Commission, they said that for two years they had been living with the Piikani near Gleichen. Roger Goulet was the Commissioner who approved their applications. They then moved to the Medicine Lodge Blackfoot Agency. He died at Two Medicine, Montana in 1892.
Fuchs, Denise M. “Native Sons of Rupert’s Land 1760 to 1860s,” Winnipeg: Ph.D. thesis, University of Manitoba, 2000: 89-91. Jackson, John C. Jemmy Jock Bird: Marginal Man on the Blackfoot Frontier. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2003. Sealey, Bruce (General Editor). Famous Manitoba Metis, Winnipeg: Manitoba Metis Federation Press, 1974: 2-4.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Margaret (Peggy) Whitford was, in his own words, “an English Half-breed.” Her father, James Peter Whitford, came from the parish of St. Paul’s, London and entered the HBC service in 1788, working in the York Factory district. Whitford married Sarah, an Indian woman, doubtless Cree, sometime before 1795, probably at Severn. From 1813 until he retired, he worked at Carlton House on the Saskatchewan.
According to oral tradition passed on by J. A. Donaghy, a missionary at Okanase from 1909-1917, Peggy Whitford was a sister to Michael Cardinal (Mekis), a “strong warrior, hunter or chief.” Mekis had three wives—of Dakota, Orkney and French origins. With these women, Mekis had such notable children as Keeseekoowenin and George Bone who later became chiefs at Okanase Reserve, and who played a major role in securing treaty protection for their people from the Canadian government. Mekis signed Treaty Number Two in 1871, and Keeseekoowenin and Baptiste signed the revisions to treaties one and two in 1875. If oral tradition is correct, these Okanase chiefs were George Flett’s first cousins.
Other sources corroborate the oral tradition passed on by Donaghy. Osborne Lauder, a descendant of Annie and Lauder (Flett’s adopted daughter), remembers that Flett was related to the Okanase chiefs although he is not sure how. Walter Scott known as Old Baldy, Keeseekoowenin’s ninety-year old grandson, agrees. After Flett’s death, George Bryce wrote a tribute in which he said that Flett was related to the people at Okanase. There is evidence that the Okanase Ojibwa had some French or English background. Isaac Cowie, an HBC apprentice at Fort Pelley in 1869, later observed that the Indians there, “like the Okanase band about Riding Mountain, were remotely descended from Europeans, but born and brought up with the Indians.” Clearly there was a relationship of some kind between Flett’s mother and Michael Cardinal.
When George Flett Sr. and his wife Peggy retired at Red River in late 1823, they already had five sons. They had been married according to the custom of the country, but in December 1823 the Church of England minister, David Jones, legalized their marriage. On the same day he baptized their five sons, George being the third oldest. The Flett family acquired thirty-four acres of land in the Point Douglas area. George Flett Sr. received thirty pounds annually from the HBC.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Frontiersman, Businessman, Politician and Founder of Glencoe
By Winnifred Herrschaft, WCHS Research Assistant
Glencoe founder Charles Richard McKay epitomized diversity before the term became popularized. “Charley,” as his many friends called him, was proud of his Scottish heritage yet equally honored his mother’s Cree Metisse background. Ever the entrepreneur, McKay was a gold miner, cattleman, real estate investor and harness-maker at various times in his work life as well as a politician.
Charles McKay was fond of telling people he was born at sea in 1808 while his family was en route from Scotland to Canada. However, official records of the Hudson’s Bay Company show he was born at Brandon House on the Assiniboine River in what is now the province of Manitoba (1)Mary Elliott Caire: Chart of McKay-Elliott family, Biographies of various McKay-Elliot family members & related materials: MSS 702; Washington County Museum, p.C9).
The Hudson’s Bay Company employed both his father, John McKay, and his uncle, “Mad” Donald McKay. His mother was Mary Favel whose father had been an English trader and whose mother was a Cree Metisse. (In Canada, the Metis were the children of European or Canadian fathers and native American mothers. Metisse is the feminine form of the word.) Mary died when Charles was 2 years old and his father’s death soon followed.
They left eight children whose care fell to the oldest brother, John Richards McKay. John had recently returned from completing his education in Scotland and was now employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Mary McKay’s two Metis brothers were also in the household and worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Charles’ early education was pretty much in the hands of his brother. From John, he derived a knowledge of the classics and a deep appreciation for the lore and literature of Scotland, not the usual educational curriculum for a child on the frontier.
When he was 16 Charles was apprenticed to the harness-making trade. John was dismissed from the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1824, Charley was a member of Sir George Simpson’s party that crossed the Rocky Mountains into Snake Country. This party, sent into territory claimed by both Canada and the U.S., was charged with trapping the area bare to create a buffer against the pressure of U.S. occupation (ibid, p.B-4). The party encountered Blackfeet but Charley, serving as interpreter, was able to negotiate with their leader, James Bird, Jr. Bird, Charley’s future brother- in-law, had been sent into the territory years before to learn the Blackfeet language.
At the end of the journey, Charley boarded a ship for Scotland, returning in 1827 to marry Letitia Byrd, daughter of the governor and former chief factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. They lived on a small farm on the Byrd estate while Charles continued in the harness business.
On to Puget Sound and the Tualatin Plains
In 1841, the couple, their three children and 22 other families of Metis extraction set out with two-wheeled Red River carts, horses and cattle on a long journey to Nisqually on Puget Sound. Charley’s brother-in-law, James Sinclair, led the expedition organized by Gov. George Simpson. Its goal was to colonize the Puget Sound area and offset the growing pressure from American settlement, save the territory for Britain and establish the border with Canada at 54/40. At Fort Spokane, Mary gave birth to her fourth child and, after a 10-day delay, the party moved on to Fort Nisqually.
The colonization effort failed. The settlers felt that the English overseers, whom they considered arrogant and domineering, had betrayed them. After one year the Red River pioneers left for the Willamette Valley and Charles McKay took up a claim on the Tualatin Plains.
When he learned that the Americans were forming a government, Charley traveled to Champoeg. There he renounced his British allegiance and gave up his financial support from Britain. He cast his vote for an American Oregon. At an earlier meeting he joined a committee considering “measures for the civil and military protection of this colony.”(Dobbs, Caroline C., “Men of Champoeg,” 1932, Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon, p. 190).
At Champoeg, he was elected captain of militia. He was in charge of one of three planned companies of mounted riflemen. However, fearing that such a show of force might prove threatening to the Indians, the Legislative Committee abandoned the idea of the three companies, which ended Charley’s military career.
When members of the Cayuse tribe killed Marcus and Narcissa Whitman at their mission in eastern Washington, Charley marched with his good friend and noted Indian fighter Tom McKay and his group of French Canadian and Metis volunteers to punish the Indians. According to the McKay family, it was Charley who shot Five Crows, the chief of the Cayuse tribe, shattering his arm and causing him to fall from his horse. When McKay and Five Crows met many years later, Five Crows said, “You tried to kill me and I tried to kill you, but I am not mad at you.”( 4-Dobbs, ibid.,p 192). Five Crows frequently called on the McKay family and brought horses to trade.
In 1849, Charley followed several of his neighbors to the California gold mines. He did well but decided that the real money was in supplying the miners. On his return he traveled around the county purchasing cattle and selling them in Portland. The story is told that, on one occasion, Charley was hiking along the Columbia River with his lunch and cash in his bedroll. He stopped for a meal at a house on the road and, after eating, found that the cash was missing from the bedroll. Following a scattering of gold coins, Charley found a hog enjoying the last of the lunch that had been left in the bedroll.
Charley prospered in the cattle business and ultimately opened a butcher shop in Portland. He continued to wander, however, going up and down the Columbia River to trade and, in 1855, he took time to serve in the Yakima Indian War.
During the early pioneer period, the McKay home and its surroundings were something of a social center. Old Hudson’s Bay Company associates and new and old immigrants joined officers from the British armed sloop, Modeste, stationed on the Columbia River, as frequent guests at balls held on the plains and festivities in the McKay home. Some of the social events brought harsh criticism from the religious community, which violently opposed the “Bacchanalian carousals.”
Birth of Glencoe
Over the years, Charley became well known for his activities in real estate though he was often forced to sell parcels of his own land to make ends meet. Some of his enterprises resulted in litigation. In 1871 he sold a half-acre of his claim to William Silvers, who was looking for a new site after his grist mill burned. Silvers found a “pretty little glen on McKay Creek where flowers bloom in profusion and shed sweet fragrance that is lost, where bees hum lazily, and where the clear waters of the stream ripple along.”(op.cit., Cairn, p. C-9).
Charley McKay named the place “Glencoe.” Though his Scottish roots were not in Glencoe, Scotland, Charley no doubt was well aware of the melancholy vale that saw the massacre of the McDonald clan by the Campbells in 1689. Having visited the site in his youth, he likely remembered the tragedy and paid tribute to those lost by naming this pretty little glen “Glencoe.”
The town grew rapidly and became a close community where intermarriage between the Metis and their neighbors was frequent and accepted. The social tone set earlier by the McKays continued. However, railway developers platted the rival town site of North Plains. By 1911, the new town was rapidly diverting new business from Glencoe. “Shed a tear for Glencoe, for Glencoe is no more.” (Caire, C-9) The victims of the Glencoe massacre whom Charley McKay may have memorialized are remembered with a cairn at the Old Scotch Church.
Charley McKay died in 1873. In his later years he had drifted into alcoholism, but he was fondly remembered in the press and extolled for his contributions to his adopted country. Many noted his success in breaking the stereotype of the Metis by proving himself a leader and one who was never vengeful against those who treated him and his family poorly.
“During thirty-two years in the Pacific Northwest, Charles McKay demonstrated that a half-blood from a different culture, environment, and political philosophy could successfully adapt to the American frontier. He showed leadership on the overland trail and during the struggle to establish farms at Nisqually. By refusing to be impeded by his racial or social peculiarity, Charles McKay shouldered a place in the new community without losing connection to the Indian side of his heritage.” (5) Jackson, John C. “Children of the Fur Trade,” Mountain Press Publishing Company. Missoula, Montana, 1995, p.194).
Friday, February 3, 2012
FLETT, James (1812-1843) : m'd 25 Apr 1833 BIRD, Chloe; s/o George and Margaret (Whitford) Flett; died near Walla Walla, WA in 1843; his wife had died the year before in Washington Co, OR; their children were adopted out to various families
1812: Moose Lake, York District, marriage (I)-George Flett (1775-1850) employed HBC (1796-1823) retired Red River with wife (II)-Margaret (Peggy) Whitford, Metis b-about 1798 daughter (I)-James Peter Whitford (1766-1818) and Indian woman.
1812 Moose Lake, birth (II)-James Flett, Metis son (I)-George Flett (1775-1850) and (II)-Margaret (Peggy) Whitford, Metis b-about 1798
BIRD, Chloe ( -1842): m'd 25 Apr 1833 FLETT, James; d/o James Curtis and (Elizabeth) Bird; died in 22 Jan 1842 during childbirth at Tualatin Plains, Washington Co, OR; her husband died the next year.FLETT, Jemima (c1840- ): d/o James and Chloe (Bird) Flett; taken in by Charles Richard Mckay and John Flett families after parents died