They Called Him “the Frenchman” : Jarray Bouchard in Douglas County Wisconsin

by Joseph Bouchard

Reprinted from the Summer 1998 Quarterly of the French Canadian and Acadian genealogical Society of Wisconsin by permission of the editor.

Around 1980, I learned that my Great-grandfather had come to the United States from Quebec. I was made aware of this through my Aunt Barbara Bouchard of Superior, Wisconsin. At that point, about one century had passed since he emigrated. Yet it would be another fifteen years beyond 1980 that a veritable flood gate of genealogical information concerning ‘my’ Bouchards would flow. Still, the vast Quebecois pedigree that I show to all who give me time to fetch it starts with my Great-grandfather, Jarray Bouchard. He is the link from the 20th century to the rich past in New France. My Aunt Barbara told me that they called him “the Frenchman”.

Jarray’s Genealogy

According to the information he supplied on his Declaration of Intent, he was born in 1865. He was born in Montreal to Desneiges Trottier and Charles Bouchard. Charles and Desneiges were married in Batiscan.

Jarray came from the Michel Bouchard line, originating from la Rochelle, France. Patrlineally, it ascends: Jarray, Charles, Pierre, Pierre, Joseph, Joseph, Gabriel, Michel, and Clement. Ironically, much more is known of the first Canadian Bouchard in this line, Michel Bouchard, than is known of the first American, Jarray Bouchard. Of note, Jarray’s fifth Great-grandfather Michel was a Hero at the River Ouelle in 1690.

Most of Jarray’s line is Quebecois. Family names include but are not limited to, Ouellette, Fortin, Lozot, Loignon, Gagnon, Boucher, Trottier, Tousignan, Rivard, Hamelin, Moreau, Mercier, Langlois, St. Pierre, De Grand Maison, Guion, and the ubiquitous Pelletiers. However, if one follows his lineage matrilineal for a few generations, one will find a branch of Acadians. Family names in this line include, Blanchard, Bourge, Bourgeois, Trahan, Landry, Thibodeau, and Quessy.

While concerning ourselves with names, we should examine the name Jarray. It is unique and it is a mystery at this printing. Supporting documents (land records, naturalization papers, census records, certificate of automobile ownership, obituaries, marriage and death records) do not record his name uniformly. “Jarray”, “Jarry”, “J. Aug.”, and “Jerry” are all represented in at least one document. Since “Jarray” is encountered most frequently, that has become the default name. This is the question: From what French name was Jarray derived?

Much has been discovered about his ancestors. But, little is known of the life of young Jarray in Quebec. Yet, there is a good paper trail which gives a reasonable account of Jarray Bouchard’s life in Wisconsin.

Jarray entered the United States in Bay City, Michigan. He landed in the Saginaw River Valley in May of 1882. This was at the height of the lumbering industry in that location. It is almost certain that he spent a few years laboring in one of the lumber camps or timber mills. Then it was on to Wisconsin.

On To Wisconsin

He would relocate over six hundred miles from his port of entry. On 23 October 1895, Jarray settled on the South half of the North-West quarter of section 6 of 45 N Range 14 of Douglas County, Wisconsin. The homestead application was submitted to Ashland from Douglas County. “Owing to distance”, Jarray could not file in person. He paid an initial $8.84 for 77 and 12/100 acres.

On 17 January 1897, Jarray filed a Bona Fide intention to become a United States Citizen. He swore off any allegiances to the “Queen of Great Britain and the Dominion of Canada” in St. Louis County, Minnesota. A little over three years would pass before he received his naturalization papers. News of this came 16 October 1900, just less than five years since he pioneered in the Chaffee settlement.

On 24 November 1900, homestead proof of testimony was submitted. This was done on behalf of Jarray by John Chaffee, Joseph Moran, and Jarray Bouchard, himself. About a week later on 1 December 1900 for completion of the full payment, the approval of land office patent certificate came. The payment was $3.86. From there, Jarray did not waste any time. As a matter of fact, less than two weeks later Jarray had a tree cutting agreement with the Hersey Lumber Company. For a fee of $130.00, “the Frenchman” gave the Hersey Lumber Company the right to harvest trees from his 77 and 12/100 acre homestead.

Jarray Starts A Family

With his homestead in place and a life of farming ahead, Jarray placed a help wanted ad in the Superior paper for a house keeper. This was filled by a woman of full Swedish blood, Amanda Olivia Johnson Nilson. She would eventually become Jarray’s wife and my Great-grandmother. Amanda had a young son at the time, Oscar Nilson. Oscar was born in 1899.

On 14 July 1904, in Chaffee, Wisconsin, Amanda and Jarray had a son. They named him Elmer J. Bouchard. Oscar and Elmer grew up as full brothers on the Bouchard homestead. “The Frenchman” and Amanda married on 12 October 1907 in Chaffee. Loren and Christian Smith of Foxboro served as witnesses. The 1910 Douglas County census shows Oscar living with Jarray, Amanda, and Elmer Bouchard.

Other facts have come down through the years via verbal and paper sources. Jarray was known to be quite flamboyant. Even his signature shows an unusual flair. Just before he died in 1926, he purchased a 1922 Maxwell motor vehicle. It cost $200.00 plus a finance charge of $52.97. Although no photographs are currently known to exist of Jarray, it has been reported that he had long, black hair. He and Amanda made an unusual looking pair. She was tall and somewhat thin while he was rather short and stocky.

The Passing Of “The Frenchman”

On 20 December 1926, “the Frenchman” died. He was known as a local pioneer. Obituaries call him ‘well known’ and ‘one of the first settlers in the area’. E. Bradley, M.D. listed the cause of death as cancer of the stomach for a duration of four years and three months. Last rites were held at the J. E. Nichol mortuary and later at the Holy Assumption Catholic Church. Reverend J. Fagan officiated. Pall bearers were Alfred Johnson, John A. Johnson (two of Jarray’s brother-in-laws), Fred Chaffee, Charles Anderson, Edward Garrison, and Clifford A. Walbur.

He is buried in the Foxboro cemetery adjacent to his son Elmer J. Bouchard and Elmer’s still-born Daughter Patricia Louise Bouchard. There are three Bouchard generations together at the Foxboro cemetery. (Some sixty years later in 1995, two of Jarray’s Grandchildren and one great-grandson arranged for a large, gray marble monument to be place in the Foxboro cemetery.) Elmer, who had worked his father’s land for a livelihood, died at the age of 30 in an automobile accident near highway 35. The year was 1935. His only son, Elmer Jerry Bouchard, was 11 months old at the time.

His Legacy

Jarray would have seven grandchildren through his son Elmer and his wife Millie Carbis. They are: Dorothy, Mary, Gloria, Elizabeth (Bette), Barbara, Patricia, and Elmer Jerry Bouchard. The younger Elmer is known as E.J. or more commonly as “Al”. There are a ponderous amount of descendants found in all parts of Wisconsin and all of the United States. Today, there are some who can count Jarray as their third Great Grandfather with a French pedigree that is documented back for20 generations.

The massive number of descendants that Jarray left behind in Wisconsin and the world is a substantial enough legacy. Also, the house that he built in 1895 is said to still stand. But there is one more tangible item. There is a camel-back travel trunk that belonged to Jarray. On each corner is stamped the date 17 Oct (18)77. One might speculate that his Jarray’s father Charles Bouchard might have acquired the trunk. Today that trunk is in the home of Al Bouchard of Germfask, MI. Like his Grandfather Jarray, Al and his wife Carrell built a log cabin in the woods. No, Al is not farming, nor is he trapping beaver, but he has been known to mention how “his people” did such things in the forests near Lake Superior.

Submitted by
Joseph Bouchard
1028 Blankenhorn
L'Anse MI. 49946
Home Phone (906) 524-5132

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