A trial in Red River

Recently the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presented the play Sarah Ballenden by local playwright Maureen Hunter.  The play is rooted in the historical trial of Foss vs. Pelly that took place in July 1850 in the Red River Settlement.

Sarah Mcleod Ballenden was a Metis woman married to a Hudson Bay Company Chief Factor, John Ballenden. Rumors were circulating that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a soldier, Captain Christopher Foss. In order to clear her name, Foss brought charges of defamation against four members of the community who were the source of the allegations: A.E. Pelly, accountant for HBC; his wife Anne Pelly; John Davidson, the mess cook; his English wife, a servant.

Much has been written about the trial and the issues of class and racism in the settlement.  It is not my intent to analyze this historical event. Readers who wish to know more can read Sylvia Van Kirk’s article “The Reputation of a Lady”: Sarah Ballenden and the Foss-Pelly Scandal at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/11/fosspellyscandal.shtml#24

Dale Gibson’s has an account of the trial in his book Law, Life, and Government at Red River: General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Annotated Records, 1844-1872, excerpts of which you can read on Google Books.

What piqued my interest was the fact that I have Hogue, McMillan and Dease ancestors living in Red River during this time frame. During the play there were references to Governor Simpson having abandoned his country wife years earlier.  Of course, the country wife was Margaret Taylor, my great-great grandmother, whom I’ve written about here.

I wondered if any of my ancestors were on the jury. Thanks to the digitization of records on the Archives of Manitoba website, I was able to see the list of jurors.


District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court, 1844-1851, Digital Image Number: PR16-002638.jpg Location Code: P7538/1


At first glance I thought, no ancestors there.  Then a couple of days later I took a second look.  One name stood out…Thomas Logan. Checking back through my files there he was… the brother-in-law of my great-great grandmother, Margaret Dease.  Thomas Logan was married to Margaret’s sister, Mary Anne.

Naturally I wondered what his opinions on the trial would have been, given that he was married to a Metis woman.  As I delved further into his background I discovered he was the son of Robert Logan and Mary, a Saulteaux Indian, so he was also Metis.

Thomas Logan scrip

Scrip affidavit for Logan, Thomas, from Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN NO. 1502263

Further research revealed that after Thomas’s mother died,  his father, Robert Logan, married Sarah Ingham, a white European widow, who was a schoolteacher.  Sylvia Van Kirk in her book Many Tender Ties, states that:

“The family of retired Chief Factor Robert Logan had particularly opposed their father’s marriage to Mrs. Ingham”.

Reading the transcript of the trial, Mrs. Logan’s name comes up several times.

Mrs. John Black (Margaret Christie, a Metis woman married to a HBC officer) said:

“I have heard Mrs. Logan state that Mrs. Ballenden was a woman that must always have a sweetheart as well as a husband.” and

“Mrs. Logan told me they were very intimate.”

Mrs. Cockran (wife of the Anglican Rev. William Cockran) testified:

‘I have heard reports, and questions has [sic] been put to me.  Mrs. Logan told me, & informed me that she had spoken to Mrs. Ballenden about it.”

The testimony of most of the witnesses for the defendants was hearsay.  There was a definite undertone of “white” superiority and racism.  So what would it have been like for Thomas Logan, a Metis, with a Metis mother and wife to hear his stepmother’s opinions? We can only guess.

I also noticed that one of the witnesses for the plaintiff was a Mr. Nathaniel Logan, a clerk for Mr. John Ballenden. Thomas had a brother Nathaniel who worked for HBC, and this could have been him.

In the end Foss won his case and damages were assessed against the defendants. However the rumors did not go away and Sarah Ballenden found herself shunned by many of the elites of the community.  She died three years later at the age of thirty-five.

So, what is the point of this post?  Obviously none of my direct ancestors were involved.  However, five of my direct ancestors (Margaret Taylor, Amable Hogue, William McMillan, Margaret Dease, and Genevieve Beignet) were adults living in the Red River Settlement at this time.  All of them, except for Amable, who was French-Canadian, were Metis. This is the social climate they lived in. These are the prejudices they experienced.

The pursuit of genealogy research for me is not just finding the names and dates for my ancestors, but placing them in the historical, social milieu in which they lived. And THAT is the reason for today’s post.




Happy New Year Canada!

2017 is a special year for Canadian history buffs, as it marks 150 years since Confederation.  All sorts of special celebrations are planned throughout the coming year.

You can read about some of the official planned festivities here.

Check here for a database of community and volunteer projects.

Library and Archives Canada will be informing us of a daily “today-in-history vignette highlighting a significant event that shaped our society” at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/onthisday/Pages/introduction.aspx

As the title of blog suggests, and my posts confirm, I am fascinated with the historical and social events that surrounded the lives of our ancestors.  Whether blogging about the first Girardin ancestor, Olivier Le Tardif who was in New France by 1621 (read about him here), our Hogue ancestor James McMillan, Chief Factor with HBC, who traveled with the explorer David Thompson (read his story here), our Napoleonic soldier Jean Baptiste Bernardin, who arrived on our shores via the War of 1812 (his story is here), or the fascinating story of our Metis ancestor, Margaret/Marguerite Taylor, country wife of Sir George Simpson, and the person whose story ignited my passion for genealogy, I remain in awe of the fortitude and courage shown by our ancestors, as they built their lives in this country we call home.

As the festivities of Canada 150 unfold, I hope to share more stories that make up our history.

Happy New Year everyone!



Margaret Taylor’s son George

When I wrote about Margaret Taylor here, I mentioned the two sons she had with Governor George Simpson of HBC. These sons were half-brothers to my great-grandfather Thomas Hogue, Sr.

This morning I happened upon a post on Nancy Marguerite Anderson’s wonderful blog, which is all about one of those sons, George Stewart Simpson. You can read it at http://nancymargueriteanderson.com/simpson.

What an interesting life!

The Gaudry families

One of the best things about “doing” genealogy is that you get to make contact with far distant relatives, who often have precious photographs and information you are missing. This recently happened to me when I happened upon a photograph, posted on ancestry.ca, of Pépère’s sister Elizabeth Hogue (not to be confused with his aunt, the “elusive Elizabeth”!) and her husband Modeste Gaudry and their family. It was a picture I had seen before, but only a very faded copy in the La Salle history book Then to Now. The owner of the photograph turned out to be researching the Gaudry line and gave me permission to post it here. We have exchanged a great deal of information and have added to each other’s knowledge of the Hogue and Gaudry families.

Description from Then to Now: the history of La Salle, Manitoba. Back row: Melina, Ulrick, Modeste Jr., Louis, Odile. Middle row: Elizabeth with Jeanne on her knee, Laura, Marie, Elizabeth, Modeste Sr. Front row: Armand, Joseph, Adelard

Description from Then to Now: the history of La Salle, Manitoba. Back row: Melina, Ulrick, Modeste Jr., Louis, Odile. Middle row: Elizabeth with Jeanne on her knee, Laura, Marie, Elizabeth, Modeste Sr. Front row: Armand, Joseph, Adelard

Isn’t this a wonderful picture? Elizabeth looks beautiful, despite having 12 children! The baby on her lap, Jeanne, was born April 17, 1911 so the picture was probably taken in late 1911 or early 1912.

Tragically, the second youngest, Adelard, the boy in front of his father, would die on July 31, 1912 in La Salle, Manitoba. The family moved to Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan and in the month of October 1918, Elizabeth would bury not only her husband Modeste, but also two daughters, Elizabeth and Laura. 1918-1919 were the years of the influenza pandemic, sometimes called the “Spanish flu”,  that killed about 50 million people worldwide.

By the 1921 census, the youngest child, Jeanne, was living with her married sister Melina, and Armand was with his married brother Modeste.  Elizabeth herself was listed as a boarder with one of the Lalonde families.  In 1922 Elizabeth married a widower, Joseph Lanoie. Elizabeth died September 18, 1952 in Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan.

Pepere’s sister Adelaide had married Modeste Gaudry’s brother Octave. Some time before this, I had made contact with a descendant of Adelaide and Octave who had also shared a marvellous photograph with me. It was simply captioned as the families of Modeste and Octave Gaudry, with no particular people identified.

It just so happened that, as I was doing some research at the Centre du patrimoine at the St. Boniface Historical Society this week, I came upon the book Poplar Poles and Wagon Trails, a history of Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan. Sure enough, there was the same picture, but this time with a caption that listed, but did not identify, some of the people in the picture. After spending more time researching the families of both Adelaide/Octave and Elizabeth/Modeste I have been able to “correct” the information in the caption, but alas, still not identify who is who!

Gaudry families
The man in the centre is definitely Octave. On the right is his wife Adelaide Hogue and the one on the left is Modeste’s wife Elizabeth Hogue.

Picture taken in 1916 by Ernest Srigley on Octave Gaudry farm. In random order: Octave Gaudry and wife Adelaide Hogue, and their children: Auxillia Srigley with Abel and Dorothy Leger (Auxillia’s children from her first marriage), Hector Gaudry and wife Inga Hanson,Octave Gaudry Jr. and wife Eva Balaux, Philippe Gaudry and wife Emiliana Dionne, Mary Guillelmine, Willie, Horace (aka Buster) and Raymond. Also in random order: Elizabeth Hogue (wife of Modeste Gaudry), and their children Odile Lagasse (and her boys, Emmanuel and Paul), Melina Gaudry and Eugene Lalonde, Laura Gaudry, Elizabeth Gaudry, Armand Gaudry and Jeanne Gaudry.

Now the Gaudry family is not a direct blood relation to my line, but all of Elizabeth and Adelaide’s children, 21 in total, were cousins of my Dad’s. So, of course the temptation to research more about them is irresistible! Turns out Modeste and Octave came from a large family. Among their siblings was an older brother Andre who worked as a scout and interpreter for the North West Mounted Police in Saskatchewan. This Andre knew Sitting Bull when the Sioux leader came to the region to escape the situation in the United States.

The father of Andre, Modeste and Octave was Amable Gaudry and his father was Andre Gaudry, a mason from Montreal, who worked on the construction of Lower Fort Garry, as did my ancestor Amable Hogue! In fact, another little tidbit of information I discovered this week, was that when Amable Hogue and Marguerite Taylor’s first child, Marie was baptized in St. Boniface in 1832, her godfather was Andre Gaudry!

Connections, connections, connections!

An update for “the elusive Elizabeth”

Recently I blogged about my search to find out more about Elizabeth Hogue, daughter of Amable Hogue and Marguerite Taylor (see here).  I have now received her death certificate from North Dakota.


Interestingly, it lists her father as having been born in France, and her mother in England!  The informant for this information was her daughter-in-law, Emma Campagna nee Boucher.

Given that Emma herself was a great granddaughter of Amable and Marguerite as shown here,

Amable to Emma Boucher

I have to wonder was Emma herself unaware of her roots, or was this just another case of hiding Metis identity? Unfortunately that was not an uncommon situation.

In 1941 Emma returned to St. Louis, Saskatchewan for a family reunion, according to this newspaper article.

The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) · Fri, Aug 29, 1941 · Page 8

The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) · Fri, Aug 29, 1941 · Page 8

It seems unlikely that she didn’t know her family history.

Tracing the elusive Elizabeth

Looking over my research for the children of Amable Hogue and Marguerite Taylor, I realized that I did not have a date of death for their daughter Elizabeth. I had her listed as being born 20 Oct 1848 in St. James, and married to a Frank Aymond, but no other details. That prompted a search to find out more about her, and what an interesting search it turned out to be!

I started with the 1870 Census of Manitoba. This is a very valuable census, as it names every member of a household, not just the head, and gives the name of each person’s father. In 1870 Elizabeth is in the Manitoba census, age 22, identified as Betsy, d/o Amable Hogue, married to John Marcellais age 27, s/o Baptiste Marcellais, and living in St. Boniface.

1870 Census of Manitoba, Library and Archives Canada http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/1870/jpg/e010985318.jpg

1870 Census of Manitoba, Library and Archives Canada

Hmm, I didn’t remember coming across the name Marcellais before. I checked Metis families: a genealogical compendium by Gail Morin, and Elizabeth is listed there as having married Jean Baptiste Marcellais 5 Mar 1867 in St. Boniface. I next checked The Genealogy of the First Metis Nation compiled by D.N. Sprague and R.P. Frye and found John Marcellais and Elisabeth Hogue listed there. So far, so good, I’m confident this is the right Elisabeth/Elizabeth/Betsy Hogue. John Marcellais is presumably her first husband.

John Marcellais was still alive in 1876 when he received Metis scrip. But…. by 1879 in her scrip affidavit, Elizabeth says she is the wife of Frank Aymond and living in Pembina. Her brothers Antoine and Louis were witnesses.

Metis National Council Historical Online Database http://metisnationdatabase.ualberta.ca/MNC/search.jsp

Metis National Council Historical Online Database

Hogue Elizabeth b1848 scrip1

What happened to John? I have to assume he died, but I’ll have to try and find a record of that.

And who is Frank Aymond? Further research on ancestry and google shows a well-known Francois “Frank” Aymond who is a riverboat captain on the Mississippi. He was born in France, married in St. Louis, Missouri, to Matilda Gamache. He spent time in Missouri and Minnesota, as well as in Red River, employed by Hudson Bay Company. So Elizabeth certainly could have met him. There was quite an age difference. Matilda died 4 Dec 1871 in St. Louis, Missouri.

So, I went looking for records of Elizabeth and Frank in Pembina (in what is now North Dakota).  In the 1880 U.S. Census, I found Elisabeth Aymond, age 31, born in Canada, with husband Francois Aymond, age 53, born in France, son Joseph, age 11, born in Canada, daughter Mary, age 8, born in Canada, and Benjamin Aymond, age 2, nephew.

1880 U.S. Census from Familysearch https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCVW-2XT

1880 U.S. Census from Familysearch

I don’t believe Joseph and Mary are Elizabeth’s children. Joseph must have been born about 1869/70, at which time Elizabeth was married to John Marcellais and living in St. Boniface. Trees on ancestry have their mother listed as a Matilda Gamache. There is a Joseph Nelson Aymond who died in Missouri on 26 Feb 1946 . He lists his parents as Frank Aymond and Matilda Gamache. Confusingly his wife’s name is also recorded as Matilda Gamache. Sigh, even “official” records have mistakes.

As for Mary Aymond, I was able to obtain a scan of her biography and obituary from the Pembina County Pioneer Daughters Collection at the Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota. She is identified as the daughter of Frank Aymond and his wife Matilda, and having been born 18 Oct 1871 in St. Boniface. (This would have been shortly before her mother’s death.)

From a  link on ancestry, I discovered the Dakota Territory 1885 Census Index

Dakota Territory 1885 Census Index from North Dakota State University Archives at http://library.ndsu.edu/db/census/results

Dakota Territory 1885 Census Index from North Dakota State University Archives at http://library.ndsu.edu/db/census/


There is Frank Aymond, age 56, born in France, but no Elizabeth. Now he is with another woman, Alice, and besides Joseph and Mary there are two more children Isabella and George. More research via ancestry led me to St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Leroy, North Dakota: baptisms, marriages and burials, 1870-1932 extracted by Gail Morin, and revealed that Isabella and George were the children of Francois Aymond and Anne Huggins.

Continuing the search for Frank/Francois, I found him in the 1900 Census for Pembina, incorrectly indexed as Frank “Amond” age 73, born in France,  widowed in the household of his daughter Mary and son-in-law David Thompson. Captain Aymond died 9 Oct 1903 near Neche, North Dakota.

Okay, now what?  Trees on ancestry assume Elizabeth has died after Matilda and before Anne/Alice,  but have no date of death. BUT ELIZABETH IS NOT DEAD.

How do I know? Because she is listed as Mrs. Frank Campagna, living in Bismarck, North Dakota and surviving her brothers Joseph and Antoine in their obits in 1924 and 1935.

So, back to searching for Elizabeth. In 1910 she is listed as age 54 with husband Frank F. Campagna, age 58, born in Canada, living  in Missouri, Burleigh, N.D. with son James F., age 26, and daughter Elizabeth E., age 16, both born in North Dakota.


In the 1920 Census she is in the same place with husband Frank Campagna

But where or where is Elizabeth between the 1880 Census with her supposed husband Frank Aymond, and 1910 when she is with Frank Campagna and has two children?  That’s a 30 year gap in records. Son James must have been born around 1884, so she couldn’t have been married to Captain Aymond for very long.

You can’t rely on census records indexes to have names spelled correctly, or for the original documents themselves to be accurate.  Depending on who gave the information and who recorded it, you have to always be prepared for conflicting information. So I decided to look at the 1885 Dakota Territory Census Index again, searching for anyone who could be indexed as a name close to Campagna.  I found Frank Capanan age 40 born in Canada, May Capanan age 40 born in Canada with son John age 1 born in Dakota. That certainly seems a likely match as they are in the same county as 1910.


Capanan in 1885 Dakota Territory Index

Back to the 1900 Census at Familysearch.  They must be there somewhere!  I started browsing the records page by page and voila! They are identified as Elija Campgora, wife, age 43, born in Canada with Frank Campgora, age 49, born in English Canada, James F. Campgora, son, age 14, born in North Dakota, and Elizabeth Campgora daughter age 5 born in North Dakota.

I don’t know the real story about Elizabeth and Frank Aymond.  She certainly claimed to be his wife in her scrip affidavit of 1879, and she is identified in the 1880 census as his wife, but 4 years later she’s with Frank Campagna and birthing her son James,  while Frank Aymond is baptizing his daughter Isabella whose mother is Anne Huggins!

Hmmm, looking back at the 1880 Census where we found Frank Aymond and Elizabeth, there is also a servant or farm worker who is listed as Fred Champagne, age 29 born in Canada. Could this be Frank Campagna?

I decided to take advantage of a free trial to Newspapers.com and luckily found obituaries for both Frank Campagna and Elizabeth Campagna.

Here is Frank Campagna’s obituary from the Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota), published Wed. Jan 26, 1921, page 3.


Service Held at St. Mary’s Church for Frank Campagna

The funeral of Frank Campagna, one of Burleigh county’s best known pioneers, was held this morning at St. Mary’s Catholic church.

Mr. Campagna lived on a farm in Missouri township, ten miles south of Bismarck. He has been sick for several years, but his death was sudden and was due to heart failure. He died at his home.

He was born 76 years ago in Quebec, Canada. Mr. Campagna is survived by his widow and two children. James F. Campagna is connected with the state penitentiary staff and Miss Elizabeth Campagna lives at home.

The pallbearers were: J.D. McDonald, William Breen, Irvin Small, Charles Swanson and August Boyer.

Mr. Campagna has been a member of the A.O.U.W. for eighteen years.


I have Elizabeth’s obit from the Bismarck Tribune 10 February 1940, Page 3:


Pioneer Settler Was 87, Had Been in Hospital Three Years; Funeral Monday

Mrs. Elizabeth Campagna, 87, pioneer Burleigh county settler and widow of an operator of a big farm here in the early days, died at 5:20 a.m. Saturday in a local hospital, where she had been a patient more than three years.

Funeral services, a requiem high mass, has been tentatively set for 9 a.m. Monday in St. Mary’s pro-cathedral, with Rev. Robert Feehan in charge. Burial will be beside the body of her husband in St. Mary’s cemetery.

Mrs. Campagna was born Elizabeth Hogue, Oct. 24, 1852 in Winnipeg. She came to the Bismarck area in 1881, and for many years the Campagnas operated a big farm 10 miles south of Bismarck.

Mr. Frank Campagna, her husband, died in 1922.

Mrs. Campagna leaves one daughter, Mrs. Walter Jones, Moffit, and 12 grandchildren. A son, Frank, of Bismarck, died in 1938.

The body is at the Calnan Funeral home.

Further research revealed that Elizabeth’s son, James Ferdinand, married Emma Boucher who was the granddaughter of Elizabeth’s sister Marie Hogue who married William Bremner.

Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Edith, married Walter Jones.

The final touch? One more delightful, if somewhat inaccurate newspaper article published in the Manitoba Free Press on Thursday, February 10, 1910:


Mrs. F. Campagna Was Born on Site of Happyland Fifty Years Ago

A woman born in Winnipeg more than half a century ago and the daughter of one of the original party of six white men who were the first to come west from what was then known as Canada, is now visiting her brothers in this vicinity after an absence of twenty-eight years.

The woman is Mrs. Frank Campagna and she lives at Bismarck, N. D. where her husband is a prosperous farmer.

Her maiden name was Hogque (sic) and her father, the intrepid pioneer, hailed from Quebec. She was born and raised on the site of what is now Happyland, which in the old days was her father’s farm. She says that her father’s descendants now number over one thousand souls.

Mrs. Camapagna is here to pay a visit to her three brothers (Hogque)(sic) one of whom lives at St. Charles village, one on a farm in the municipality and another at Sturgeon Creek.

Oh my!  “Original party of six white men”, uh, no, not exactly…  this is how family legends start LOL.  But the coolest part of this article is knowing that since this visit occurred in 1910 and my Dad was born in 1909, she would have met him, and Mémère, for the first time.  Now if only someone had taken a picture.

So is the puzzle solved?  Not completely.  Elizabeth appears to have shaved a few years off her age somewhere along the way.  I still don’t know what happened to John Marcellais or why Elizabeth and Frank Aymond didn’t stay together.  The first item is something I should eventually discover, but the second is one I’ll likely never know.

Metis beadwork


Hidden away in my Father’s trunk was this beautiful piece of Metis beadwork. I remember seeing it once or twice as a child, but to my regret I have no memory of the story behind it. My one Hogue aunt still living remembers seeing it, but doesn’t remember where it came from. Since it is sewn on men’s gaiters, I suspect that it belonged to Thomas Hogue, Sr. who was supposedly a great horseman.

I have had it appraised by Sherry Farrell Racette, Associate Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, and it is likely from about 1870. This is based on the design, type of beads, colour, thread, etc. The original beadwork is worked on black velvet, and was obviously sewn on the gaiters at a later date.

So, given the date, who could have been the creator? I have three Metis “grandmothers” who were alive at that time. Was it made by Thomas’s wife, Philomene McMillan, or his mother, Marguerite Taylor, or his Mother-in-law Margaret Dease? We will never know.

There is always the chance that it was bought or traded, and thus made by someone outside the family, but it seems unlikely it would have been kept this long if it had no family connection.

I would love to have it mounted in a proper archival display case someday. For now it sits, wrapped in archival paper, and kept in a dark closet to prevent deterioration.

Beautiful, is it not?