Letter from Louis J.A. Papineau to Willis P. Popenoe.

Copied by Paul Popenoe, Jr., October 1978.
 

Manor of Monte Bello
Co. Of Ottawa, Province of Quebec
Dominion of Canada
May 10, 1894

W.P. Popenoe
Nottawa Farm
Berrytown, Shawnee Co., Kansas

Dear Sir,

I was much interested and pleased with your letter of 3d May instant.

I have no doubt you belong to the race of Papineaus. Their history is a curious one. Their section in France was La Papiniere, town or parish of Montigny, in the province of Poitou, and now the Department of Deux Sevres. They were noble and entitled to the prefix of De/de Papineau . They were Huguenots, that is French Calvinists, and persecuted under Louis XIV. Some were killed and others fled, some to England, some to Germany, one to Canada about the year 1686 or 87. All the P. in Canada now, several hundred, are descended from that one, and only one that ever came to Canada where the records of birthe, marriages and deaths have been kept faithfully ever since the foundation of the colony, say from 1608.

Very likely your ancestor came directly from France to Charleston, South Caroline, with many other Huguenots.

I have visited Montigny in Poitou and La Papiniere. I have traced up those in England. I have found the names of widows and orphans left at the mercy of the Bishop of Poitiers and his Dragoons.

The P. who came to Canada had to feign conversion to Catholicism or be driven afar to Boston of New York. He had settled on a farm near Montreal and had married and so remained. He had a dozen children and thus multiplied. You can find twenty Papineaus in the Directory of the City of Montreal alone.

My grandfather Joseph and my father Louis Joseph were very prominent lawyers and politicians for a long period from 1780 to 1850 leading always the Liberal Party - members of Parliament, and my Father the speaker of Assembly from 1815 to 1837. Then became "the Great Rebel" and was near achieving the independence o f this country. But English Bayonets were too strong for us and was then myself a "son of liberty" at 18 years of age and am therefore now 75 years old. My grandfather acquired the seignory of Petit Nation of the Algonquins, 75 square miles on the Ottawa which we still own. We are the first and oldest branch of the family.

Now, I think you might trace your pedigree from the family of your ancestor at Charleston or Virginia by means of family files. If you do, let me know what you can learn.

You tell me you have a Daughter "that can read and speak French" living in Topeka. Tell her to write to me in French.

I would be glad to find your family history - I stand in the sixth generation from Samuel the Refugee who came to Canada about 1686. If they feigned conversion they kept up the Biblical names of Joseph, Samuel, Benjamin, etc.

Let me hear from you again.

Yours truly,

Louis J.A. Papineau

I married an American lady and my son married also an American lady. So my 4 grandsons are one fourth french and three fourths english. Myself I am pure french with former generations.

 
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