Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ouaouaboukoue or Ouaouagoukoue? Whatever.

In reviewing some of my family history information recently in connection with my LeBeau family research, a question was raised regarding the grandparents of Marie Louise Jourdain, the wife of Jean Baptiste/Jacques LeBeau.  My dad and I list her maternal grandparents as Jean Baptiste Reaume and Symphorose Ouaouagoukoue.  Or sometimes it is spelled Ouaouaboukoue. And sometimes, believe it or not, it is spelled 8a8ab8k8e.

I think it is pronounced something like  wah-wah-goo-kway.   Anyone who has ever traveled through Wisconsin will see many places containing a syllable sounding like “wah”.   Wausau. Waukesha.  Milwaukee.  Waushara.  Kewaunee. Once you start seeing it, you see it everywhere.  And you realize it must mean something in one of the Indian languages.  Of course, when I ask non-Indian Wisconsinites they just shrug and say they don’t know.  But someday I’ll find out.  

Anyway, as I’ve said before, Symphorose Ouaouagoukoue is something of a mystery and I wish I knew more about her. 

I know a lot about her husband.  Jean Baptiste Reaume was born September 24, 1675 in Petite Riviere St. Charles, just outside Quebec. He was the son of Rene Reaume and Marie Chevreau, both of whom immigrated to New France separately. They married in 1665 and had quite an extensive family – thirteen children, out of which eleven were boys. 

Jean Baptiste was only one of the many Reaume brothers to leave Quebec and head west.  References to his brothers, Robert, Pierre, Charles and Simon, show up in multiple French records of the time as voyageursRobert Reaume was, in fact, hired to escort Madame Cadillac, the wife of the founder of Detroit, to join her husband at that new post.  Simon Reaume was a very well known fur trader, perhaps the most successful of the brothers, and at one point the temporary commander of the French post at Ouiatenon.

Jean Baptiste joined (or succeeded) Pierre Reaume in the La Baye (Green Bay WI) area as a scout and interpreter and trader.  There is some confusion over whether Pierre Reaume was the son of Rene Reaume, and a brother to Jean Baptiste, or was a son of Robert Reaume and a nephew to Jean Baptiste.  Also, some historians believe that some references to “Reaume” the interpreter in the La Baye area that have been identified as Pierre Reaume should really be Jean Baptiste Reaume.   In any event, according to a voyageur contract transcribed by Peter Scanlan in his excellent resource Prairie du Chien: French, British, American,  by 1718 the 42 year old Jean Baptiste Reaume was officially in La Baye having been licensed to take a canoe there for the well known Montreal merchant Pierre de Lestage. 

By at least 1725 he was an interpreter at the post and was trading for himself (and possibly Pierre).  That year Robert Reaume, “representing Jean Baptiste Reaume, voyageur and interpreter”, bought merchandise valued at 4821 livres  on credit from the Montreal merchant Charles Nolan Lamarque.  We are all indebted to whoever took the time to list many of Jean Baptiste Reaume’s  (and other voyageur’s) contracts on a very useful website.  I encourage anyone interested to click through and read them (warning: they are in French).

In 1725, a daughter of Jean Baptiste Reaume was baptized at Michillimackinac.  Her name was Marie-Judith but the name of her mother is not disclosed.  I can find no mention of Marie-Judith ever again.  I do not know if she was legitimate or illegitimate.

By 1728 the French decided to abandon the military post at La Baye due to fighting with the Fox Indians.  Reaume moved down to the post at the River St. Joseph (present day Niles Michigan) to serve as interpreter to the post commander there.  He continued to trade there as can be seen from his contracts.

More importantly for us, it is only when Jean Baptiste Reaume transfers to the post at the River St. Joseph that we discover he has a wife and that she is an Indian.  And we discover that they have have at least one child, named Marie.  We discover this because Marie Reaume acts as godmother at a baptism and the names of her parents are listed in the entry in the church register: 

In the year 1729 the 7th of March I J. Bap. Chardon priest and missionary of the society of Jesus at the river St. Joseph baptized Joseph son of Jean Baptiste Baron voyageur from the parish of Boucherville at present settled in this post and of Marie Catherine 8ekioukoue married in the eye of the church, baptized the 8th of March the day following his birth. The godfather was Mr. Louis-Coulon de Villiers junior and the Godmother Marie Rheaume daughter of Sieur Jean Baptiste Rheaume interpreter and of Simphorose ouaouagoukoue married in the eyes of the church.

J. B. Chardon M. of the soc. of Jesus

Louis de villier

marie reaume

It is unlikely that this “Marie Rheaume” was the four year old Marie Judith Reaume.  Most people assume that the Marie Reaume in this record is Marie Madeleine Reaume who, within 2 years, would be married to Augustin L’Archeveque, a prominent St. Joseph fur trader.  Madeleine was probably not very old when she married.  She might have been as young as 12, which would account for the guess of many that the Reaumes were married about 1720..  Madeleine spent most of the rest of her life in St. Joseph and was a leading citizen.  After L’Archeveque died she married another prominent trader named Louis Chevalier.  Marie Madeleine Reaume has been the subject of some interesting historical research into the role that women played in the French fur trade.  I recommend Susan Sleeper-Smith’s book, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounters in the Western Great Lakes.  Many of Madeleine’s descendents moved to Cahokia and St. Louis.  When Toussaint Jacques LeBeau married Marie Le Fernet in 1795, one of the witnesses to his marriage contract was “L. Chevalier, cousin” and this was probably one of the grandchildren of Madeleine Reaume.

As an interesting aside, the godfather in that baptism at St. Joseph was Louis Coulon de Villiers, the son of the military commander of Post St. Joseph.  Young Louis would grow up to enter the military like his father and, as his wikipedia entry notes, he is the “only military opponent to force George Washington to surrender”.   

But I digress.  In the late 1720's the war was between the French, their Indian allies and the Fox Indians.  While serving at St. Joseph, Jean Baptiste Reaume acted as an agent and spy for the post commander to try to learn what the Fox were planning.  He and his brother Simon played a large role in the defeat (and massacre) of a large party of Fox in 1730. 

By 1732 Jean Baptiste Reaume seems to have returned to La Baye with Commander de Villiers, who was ordered to re-open that post.  De Villiers was killed not long after that in an Indian battle and references to Reaume cease.  I’ve always wondered if he was at that battle.  He worked so closely with de Villiers that I feel he would have been there if he was not away at the time for some reason.  I’ve wondered if he was wounded, I’ve even sometimes wondered if he died.  But he was a well enough known figure at the time that I think his death would have been reported.  In the website that lists his contracts, the contracts cease for a long period and then begin again in the 1740s, but I think it is possible that by that time his son, the younger Jean Baptiste Reaume, was already acting as official interpreter at the post and those contracts could be his.  Or they could be our Jean Baptiste Reaume’s and there was a reason we do not know as to why there was such a long period between contracts.

We do know that in 1746 he is not listed as “deceased” at the marriage of his daughter, but he also was not listed as present at the wedding:  

1746, I received the mutual [marriage] consent of B. Jourdain, son of Guillaume [Jourdain and of] Angelique la Reine, and _______ Reaume, daughter of J.B. Reaume, residing at la Baye … P. DU JAUNAY, miss. of the Society of Jesus. Louis Pascale Chevalier.

Although the name of the daughter is blank in the marriage record, we know that this is Josephe Reaume because she and JB Jourdain are listed as parents at the baptism of a daughter the following summer of 1747.  The summer of 1747 also saw the marriage of another daughter of JB Reaume and, again, he is not listed as deceased as the parents of the groom are: .

July 1, 1747, I received the mutual marriage consent of Charles Personne de la Fond, son of the late Nicolas Personne de la Fond and of the late Madeline la Suse, of the parish of Montreal; and of Susanne Reaume, daughter of Jean Baptiste Reaume and of Symphorose Ouaouaboukoue, residing at La Baye, after one publication of Bans instead of three, having granted dispensation from the other two publications.

P. du Jaunay, miss. of the society of Jesus

Amiot; Baptiste Le Beaux; Coulonge, witnesses

(Did you LeBeau fans notice who the witness was at that wedding?)  So, we have church records that confirm that both Josephe and Susanne are daughters of Jean Baptiste Reaume.  The church records also confirm that Susanne is the daughter of Symphorose Ouaouaboukoue.  Assuming that the older sister would marry first, that makes Susanne the younger sister.  Jean Baptiste Reaume and Symphorose Ouaouaboukoue were married in the eyes of the church according the the St. Joseph church record. And if the Jesuits said you were married, you were married.  So it seems unlikely that Josephe would have a different mother than her younger sister Susanne.   From this evidence most of us have decided it is more likely than not that the mother of Josephe was also Symphorose Ouaouaboukoue.  If we guess that both daughters were probably about 15 years old when they married, they would have been born in the early 1730’s, perhaps even after the Reaumes returned to La Baye.

When did Jean Baptiste Reaume die?  By September of 1747 his son Jean Baptiste Reaume is entering into a marriage contract with Felicite Chavillon and he is described as the son of the deceased Jean Baptiste Reaume, .  It does not appear that this marriage of the younger Reaume ever occurred though.  The younger Jean Baptiste Reaume married a woman of the Folle Avoine tribe a few years later at Michilimackinac.  He and his wife already had a child, who had been born “at the wintering grounds” and who was brought to Michillimackinac for baptism.  (I’ve seen some researchers who think it was the older Jean Baptiste Reaume who married the Folle Avoine woman, but I feel fairly certain it is the son since the older Jean Baptiste Reaume would have been about 80 at this time – plus that marriage contract says he was dead by the time of that marriage.).

But this marriage contract of the younger Jean Baptiste Reaume also causes confusion because it lists his mother as Marie-Anne Thomas.  Who is Marie-Anne Thomas?   I don’t believe there is a baptismal record for the younger Jean Baptiste Reaume so I suppose it is possible that he is younger than Suzanne and had a different mother.  Some family researchers seem to have assumed that Marie Anne Thomas was a dit name for Symphorose Ouaouagoukoue.  I wonder why?  Symphorose is an unusual name but it is the name of a Christian saint.  Why would she go by Marie Anne?  On the other hand why would her granddaughter Marie Josephe go by Marie Louise?  And why would Baptiste LeBeau go by Jacques LeBeau?  The French never seemed very attached to their given names.  Since the mother of the bride-to-be was also named Marie-Anne it is possible that the notary just messed up and entered Marie-Anne twice.   But what about the last name Thomas?  It is very confusing.

In any event, that’s all we know.  I’d love to know more about Symphorose Ouaouaboukoue, as would the many people who post messages on the various genealogy message boards.  But so far no one has come up with any definitive information.  I’ve seen people state that she “must” be from such and such tribe, but I’ve never seen documentation.  Personally, I’ve always suspected she was Pottawatomie.  But that’s just a hunch, not real information. There are many people who think she belonged to the Illinois.   Hopefully someday we’ll find out more about her.

As usual, if anyone has anything to add, make a comment or drop me an email.