Jacques Vieau: a Son of Montreal and a Father of European Wisconsin--Another Perspective on the French and Native Peoples
The time was September of 1833. The place was the rapidly growing village called Chicago. A French man had gone there hoping to collect on debts that several American Indians in that area owed him for trade goods. The United States government had just finished coercing the tribal peoples in the northern region of the U.S. Midwest to acquiesce to the Treaty of Chicago, a major Indian-removal treaty. The French man knew from experience that at such times, if non-Indian traders wanted to collect for goods previously extended to tribal peoples on credit, traders had a chance of being paid from the limited treaty monies which government agents distributed to the Indians after a signing.
One afternoon San-gau-nau-nee-bee (meaning Sour Water), a Potawatomi village leader from the St. Joseph's River area (located in the far southwestern lower peninsula of present-day Michigan), swaggered into the French man's temporary trading shanty. The Potawatomi walked over to a big keg of plug-style tobacco in the shanty, took about six pounds out, and turned to walk away with the tobacco. The French man immediately called out (in the Potawatomi language), "What are you going to do with that?" The Potawatomi turned and replied, "I am going to use it." The French man responded, "It doesn't belong to you!" Angered, the Potawatomi again began to leave with the tobacco, "What of that? I am an Ogima ["Chief"] and can do as I please!" Upon which the French man stood up threatening, "You can, can you?"
The Potawatomi immediately pulled out a long bowie knife; however, before he could do anything with it, the French man lunged forward and with his two hands, grabbed the fellow by his neck and his breech-clout, and literally threw him out of the shanty, the plugs of tobacco scattering in all directions.
San-gau-nau-nee-bee hurried over to a group of Indians who stood watching nearby. The French man followed him.
One of the other Potawatomi leaders, Che-po-i, whose name means the corpse (probably so named because his nose was cut off clear to the bridge), looked at the French man, shook his finger at him and said loudly, "Jacques Vieau, we have always heard you were a popular man, a benefactor of our peoples, feeding them when they were hungry; but today you have lost all, you have spoiled yourself, by doing that which we saw you do to the noble San-gau-nau-nee-bee. Never again will you have our favor!"
Jacques looked him in the eye and asked, "Who are you, talking with such authority?" Che-po-i replied, "I am Che-po-i, the head man of the St. Joseph River band of Potawatomi."
Jacques, not backing down an inch, said, "If I was such a looking man as you are, Che-po-i, I should consider that the name you bear suits well. You, who wants to show so much authority, go where you lost your nose and find it; only then will you be fit to come here to Chi-ca-go and make such fine speeches!"
Immediately the large crowd of Indians, who had gathered around upon hearing the confrontation between Che-po-i and Vieau, burst into vociferous applause. Che-po-i, glaring fiercely at the impudent French man, sat down in chagrin. **1
Who was this French man who dared to deal in such a way with these Potawatomi leaders at Chicago when he was most certainly and vastly outnumbered? He was Jacques Vieau.
Although little-known today, Vieau was among the most significant of the voyageurs; that class of colonial French men who spent part of their time in the French colonial settlements and the rest of their time among the American Indians with whom they traded European goods for furs.
They often married into American Indian families, using their acquired family relationships to establish trade relations and to gain substantial influence within American Indian communities.
Jacques Vieau was a master voyageur.
Living in the Wisconsin area during the last decades of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century, Vieau established a network of trading posts from Green Bay to Milwaukee and helped to lay the foundations of European Wisconsin. His success was in large part due to his rapport with members of various tribal communities.
The French colonial history of the Wisconsin area prior to Vieau's arrival is relatively well-known. The following overview is intended to set the stage for his entrance.
Although Jean Nicolet arrived at Red Banks along the south shore of the Bay of Green Bay in 1634, where met Menominee, Winnebago, and some Potawatomi tribal villagers, he did not establish any permanent relationship with the American Indians in the area.
It was not until between 1668 and 1670, thirty-five years after Nicolet left Green Bay and went back to Quebec, that some other French men, including the young colonial French government explorer, Nicolas Perrot, and the missionary priest, Claude Allouez, spent some time among the American Indian tribal peoples at Green Bay, which they called "La Baye." Evidencing their intention to stay in the area, the French colonial authorities constructed Fort St. Francis in 1701 on the west shore of the Fox River near it's mouth at the Bay of Green Bay. Thereafter the fort was commonly called "Fort La Baye."
By 1718 there were a number of French families living in the area near the fort. Other families settled across the river from the fort in an area which was called "Munnomonee [Menominee] Town," or sometimes "Shanty Town." Most of the families had come to La Baye from the Mackinac area.
Many French family members had begun to live among, and have children with, the indigenous peoples inhabiting villages near the mouths of rivers situated along the bay shore north of La Baye and as far as present-day Escanaba in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
These French people did not concern themselves with recording legal title to the lands they settled on, as many of them had formally married into American Indian tribal families and felt no such need.
Even after 1761, when English troops took official possession of the La Baye area, changing the name of the fort to Fort Edward Augustus, most of the villagers continued to be either French or French/Indian mixed (metis) people; very few English settlers arrived at that time.
In the years prior to the English takeover, many American Indians had become increasingly dependent upon European goods and many were in the process of abandoning a large portion of their traditional ways of life.
The Europeans who carried on the trade in the Western Great Lakes area wilderness were often of questionable reputation. Once beyond the control of English authorities, they made their own law, sometimes fighting among themselves and quite often cheating the Indians. Sir William Johnson of the English colonial government described these traders as being "generally ignorant and without principle." **2
Into this milieu, while the American Revolution raged in the Atlantic coastal region, the nineteen year-old Jacques Vieau arrived from Montreal. He had been sent to Mackinac as a voyageur representative for the Northwest Fur Company. **3
This "Son of Montreal," a descendant of the de Veau family of Marseilles, left no written record of his travels and adventures, as he could neither read nor write. **4 Yet, because he was so well-known and was held in such high esteem during the time that he lived, we may know a great deal about him from other sources. The written memoirs of Jacques' sons Andrew and Peter are the principal sources of information about this remarkable man, and corroborating evidence from other sources attests to their accuracy. **5
Jacques's paternal Grandfather, although he does not appear to have been a Huguenot himself, was apparently involved with the Huguenots in France in some capacity. At any rate, he emigrated to North America's Colonial New France in about 1685 -- a time when the Huguenots were being severely oppressed in France.
The family must have had a considerable amount of influence at one time since Jacques Vieau's great-uncle had been Governor of Marseilles. **6
Jacques was born on May 5, 1757, in Cour de Neige (Snow Court), a suburb of Montreal. **7 By the time he was an adult, he stood approximately six feet tall and weighed about two hundred and twelve pounds. He did not keep a beard, preferring to keep his broad, round face clean-shaven. His hair was light-colored and inclined to curl. Remarkable for a man at that time, he was temperate when it came to alcoholic beverages. He usually had a happy and sociable disposition and was well-liked. **8
As already noted, the Northwest Fur Company sent Jacques, along with his brother Nicolas, to Mackinac in approximately 1776. From Mackinac the two brothers were sent to the company's post at La Pointe, on present-day Madeline Island in the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. There they worked as voyageurs with John Ulrich. By 1782 Jacques had become a clerk for Ulrich and was put in complete charge of the La Pointe post. Nicolas had moved to La Baye.
By 1786, Jacques, having established a good reputation as a clerk, had also moved to La Baye. There, in 1786, he married Angelique (sometimes called Angeline), the daughter of Joseph le Roy, a French man, and his wife Marguerite, who was a daughter of Ah-ke-ne-pa-weh ("Standing Earth"), an important Menominee tribal leader from the La Baye area. Ah-ke-ne-pa-weh was one of the tribal leaders representing the Menominee in 1831 at the Stambaugh Treaty in Wisconsin. He also appears to have been the brother of Kaush-kau-no-weh ("Grizzly Bear"), who long exerted much influence among the Menominee.
One of Angelique's maternal uncles was O-nau-ge-sa (Ah-ke-ne-pa-weh's son), a Menominee leader of the Potawatomis at Milwaukee. O-nau-ge-sa had married a daughter of the principal Potawatomi leader at Milwaukee and it was upon the death of his father-in-law that he, despite being a Menominee himself, became the leader of the Potawatomi there. **9
It should be noted that the foregoing is not unusual since a close relationship developed very early in Wisconsin between the Menominee, who are indigenous to Wisconsin, and the Potawatomi who migrated to Wisconsin from lower Michigan beginning as early as 1630.
In 1794, when Jacob Franks opened a post at Green Bay for the Montreal-based Ogilvie, Gillespie & Company, Jacques Vieau became his clerk.
A year later, in 1795, the Northwest Fur Company rehired Jacques and promoted him to the position of official company agent. In July, the company sent him from Mackinac with a supply of goods and the orders to explore and establish trading posts along the west shore of Lake Michigan.
The trade goods were tightly packed into a large Mackinaw boat manned by twelve men. Jacques, his wife, and their first three children followed in a large bark canoe. His clerk, James Michael Lepallieur, followed in the supply canoe. Mike, as he was commonly called, referred to Jacques as "my cousin Jaque." Lepallieur's duties included reading and writing for Jacques who, despite being multilingual, was illiterate. Jacques was known to speak, in addition to the French language, Menominee, Potawatomi, and English, as well as, apparently, some Winnebago and Chippewa. **10
Jacques Vieau, his companions, and his family established their first "jackknife" trading post (put together with whatever materials immediately available) near a mixed-Menominee-Potawatomi village at Kewaunee, the site of a large natural harbor.
This is the first example of how Jacques' wife's tribal lineage proved to be very advantageous in establishing profitable trade connections. That Angelique's grandfather and uncles were renowned and respected in both Menominee and Potawatomi communities helped her husband Jacques quickly become a respected and trusted friend among them. The Kewaunee trading post also became the foundation for a European-American community in the same location. Jacques left one of his men there and continued southward along the western shore of Lake Michigan.
Attesting to his popularity, some of the American Indians by that time were calling Jacques "Jean Veau," which later became "Jambeau," "Shambo," and even "Sambo." **11 In fact, local American Indians called a creek near the site of one of Jacques' trading posts in the present-day Manitowoc County Town of Gibson, "Jean Beau Creek." In 1887, Henry Tisch from Kewaunee had in his possession an old map of the Manitowoc County area which showed the location of a "Jambeau Creek." **12
Jacques also established trading posts near major American Indian villages at the junction of Twin Rivers (which later became "Two Rivers"), as well as at Manitowoc near the rapids, and at Sheboygan on the north side of the river at the foot of the rapids. He left clerks at all three places. Again, in choosing these locations, Jacques had made good use of his wife's tribal connections.
Each of these locations became profitable trade centers and later provided the foundations for significant European-American communities.
Jacques established trading posts at several other sites along the lake shore, including one near a large ancient Menominee village in the area of present-day Saukville, Wisconsin.
Jacques Vieau and his entourage finally arrived in Milwaukee harbor between the 18th and the 20th of August in 1795. There, a large number of Potawatomi, including relatives of his wife Angelique, as well as some Sauk and Fox, and a few Winnebago, warmly welcomed Jacques and his family.
Jacques and his companions built two log buildings at the foot of a lime ridge approximately one and one-half miles from the mouth of the Menominee River (in the present-day Mitchell Park area on the near south side of the City of Milwaukee). One of the buildings was a dwelling for his family; the other was a warehouse.
Soon Jean Baptiste Mirandeau, a blacksmith who apparently had arrived in Milwaukee shortly after the Vieau group, began working for Jacques. Mirandeau later married a Potawatomi woman. **13
Jacques Vieau and his family remained at Milwaukee during the winter of 1795, and continued to spend every winter in the area thereafter for about the next three years. Six of the twelve Vieau children were born in Milwaukee, including Louis, Joseph, Amable, Charles, Nicholas, and Peter.
Each May, after packing up the winter furs obtained from the Indians in the trade, and after buying as much of the Indians' maple sugar that they could, the Vieau family left for Mackinac. Each spring when he and the family departed for Mackinac, Jacques left a clerk in charge of the Milwaukee trading post. Among the clerk's many responsibilities, were to plant potatoes and corn to provide food for the next winter, as well as to purchase summer deer hides from the Indians.
On his annual trip north, Jacques would stop at each of the jackknife trading posts which he had previously established. At each one, he collected furs and maple sugar. In addition, he would also relieve the agent who had been there the previous winter, leaving a new agent in charge of the post. The trip from Milwaukee to Mackinac, with good canoeing weather, took about a month.
After spending June and July at Mackinac, each August Jacques started out again for his Wisconsin trading posts with a supply of fresh trade goods to be distributed at each post. It is important to note that Vieau was not a roving fur trader; rather, he established and maintained well-stocked, permanent lake shore posts which over time developed into European-American villages.
Vieau's chief clerk at that time was a man known only by the name "LaJeunnesse," without a first name being given in the available sources. It is possible that LaJeunnesse was a mixed-blood Menominee. At a Menominee tribal council with the English held at Prairie du Chien in 1783, one of the Menominee "Chiefs" recorded to have spoken was called "LaJeunnesse." **14 If Vieau's clerk and the Menominee "Chief" are one and the same, or if the clerk is an offspring of the LaJeunnesse who spoke at Prairie du Chien, it would attest to Vieau's strong influence among the Menominee that he had someone of that stature working for him.
In 1798 the Northwest Fur Company ordered Jacques Vieau to establish a post at the portage area between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers in south central Wisconsin. He took his family with him and remained there (at the site of the present-day City of Portage) for about three seasons. Later, from 1812 to 1818, Jacques Vieau's brother-in-law, Francis le Roy, had a business there.
That the Jacques Vieau family had left Milwaukee for a time around 1800 is corroborated by Antoine le Clair who stated that when he arrived with his family at Milwaukee in 1800, the only white man he found there was Mirandeau the blacksmith. Jacques Vieau and his family returned to Milwaukee about 1802.
Beginning in about 1810, Jacques Vieau's family remained in Green Bay during the winters while Jacques was out working in the Indian village areas.
Jacques and his brother Nicholas (who was also known as "Colish"), were residents of Green Bay prior to the War of 1812. During the war, Nicholas (but not Jacques) was one of the sixty-seven "Canadian Voyageurs" who volunteered at Mackinac on June 21, 1814, to go to Prairie du Chien "on an expedition against the Americans." **15
During the war, Jacques Vieau was also apparently of service to the English. In November of 1813, Colonel Robert Dixon, an English Army officer and Indian Agent in the western district based at Lake Winnebago, wrote to Lieutenant John Lawe at Green Bay expressing concern about the growing number of boats filled with provisions accumulating at the Lake Winnebago post that needed to reach Mackinac before February. Dixon wrote that he believed "Jean Vieux" would be the most appropriate person to get the boats to Mackinac. On February 10, 1814 Colonel Dixon wrote to Lawe again, asking Lawe to get "Jean Vieux" and "Collish" (Jacques brother) to take an important message to the Indians at one of the Potawatomi villages at Milwaukee. The English had learned that "LaFarine" (also called "Old Flour"), the leader of that Potawatomi village, had recently provided a guide to Samuel A. Storrow of Massachusetts, the acting Judge Advocate in the United States Army.
As a result of this action, English officers believed that FaFarine posed a real threat to the English military security. The Vieaus were requested to bring him and O-pa-hoh, a Menominee leader from Milwaukee, to meet with Dixon and Tomah, another principal Menominee leader (also known as "Thomas Carron"). **16
The next day, on February 11, 1814, Colonel Dixon again wrote to Lawe. He told Lawe that six Indians had arrived at the Lake Winnebago post the previous day. He stated that he believed that they were either spies for the United States, or an advance party for a greater number of Indians planning to attack his post. He advised Lawe to be on guard at Green Bay against an attack by the Milwaukee Indians because, as he said, "there are a great many scoundrels among them." In March, however, Dixon again wrote to Lawe saying he was no longer sure that the English should trust Jacques Vieau because he was related to the Milwaukee Potawatomi through his wife's family. **17
It was in 1814 that Laurent Solomon Juneau, a member of a Montreal family with whom Jacques Vieau was well acquainted, married Jacques' daughter Josette (his daughter by a Menominee woman from Sheboygan). Juneau, whom some erroneously credit with being the founder of Milwaukee (an honor which rightfully belongs to Juneau's father-in-law, Jacques Vieau), had been enrolled in a Roman Catholic seminary in the Montreal area, but had left there and journeyed to Mackinac when he was about sixteen years of age. He worked as a voyageur for various traders until he met Vieau again at Mackinac and convinced Jacques to take Juneau with him to Green Bay as an employee. **18
In 1818, after the war was over, Jacques Vieau became the principal agent for the American Fur Trade Company at Milwaukee. His son-in-law Juneau became Vieau's clerk. In August, Vieau and Juneau arrived together at Milwaukee.
The following year, in 1819, Jacques withdrew as the principal agent of the American Fur Company and arranged for Juneau to take his place. Jacques then started trading independently at his old trading post near the bluff. He traded there for several years, during which time his principal supplier was Michael Dousman of Chicago.
Vieau remained at Milwaukee as an independent trader, not really involved with the United States government, until October of 1821 when Matthew Irwin, who was in charge of the United States government fur trading operation based in Green Bay, wrote to Thomas L. McKenney, the United States Superintendent of Indian Trade, complaining that a Chicago-based agent for the American Fur Company, James Kinzie, was selling large quantities of whiskey to the Indians near Milwaukee.
McKenney promptly ordered Kinzie to leave the Milwaukee area. Irwin then hired Jacques Vieau (whom he trusted) to operate the government-owned trading post there. He provided Vieau with $2,228.25 worth of trade goods. In addition, he advanced him $200.00 for his winter needs, as well as a clothing and supply allowance. Two of Vieau's "boatmen" as well as his other young helpers were also provided with a clothing and supply allowance. Irwin wrote McKenney stating that Vieau was well-known in the region for his integrity and, in addition, possessed enough property to cover the whole amount entrusted to him. **19
Jacques Vieau always considered the Green Bay area, where he had a farm located on the west bank of the Fox River, and where several of his children had been born, to be his true home; not Milwaukee. For a time, Laurent Solomon Juneau also considered Green Bay to be his home. Juneau was, in fact, one of the last to recognize that Milwaukee was destined to become a significant settlement. It was not until 1834-1835 that his friends persuaded him that Milwaukee was destined for greatness. It was then that Juneau platted the village of Milwaukee, already founded by Jacques, and settled there.
In 1823, Robert Stuart, an American Fur Company agent at Mackinac, wrote a letter to John Lawe, the company agent at Green Bay, telling him to warn Jacques Vieau to keep an eye on Moses Swan, a trader who was wintering at Manitowoc. Apparently Swan was causing real problems with the local Indians because of his trading practices, and Vieau was the man whom the Indians trusted the most. **20
In 1836 Jacques Vieau, approximately seventy-nine years of age, distressed that so many of his Indian friends and acquaintances had died during the 1832-33 small-pox epidemic, and disturbed that so many non-French white settlers were coming into Milwaukee, left Milwaukee to permanently reside on his farm at Green Bay.
On July 1, 1852 this unique man died in his home on the west side of the Fox River, in what became the Town of Ashwaubenon, at the age of ninety-five. He was buried in the French Catholic cemetery at Shanty Town on the east side of the river. His wife, Angelique, died ten years later at the home of her son Joseph, in the Brown County Town of Lawrence.
Jacques and Angelique Vieau had eleven children. The oldest was Madeleine, who married Jean Baptiste Thibeault (also spelled Thibault or Thibeau) and lived in Stevens Point where she died in 1878. She, as well as her husband, are listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Tribal Roll. In addition, there is a Thibault listed on the 1837 Winnebago Mixed-blood Roll. **21
Next in the order of their birth was Paul, who later lived with his wife Mary and six children as members of the Potawatomi tribe in Kansas. He is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. **22
It should be noted at this point that at least four other children of Jacques and Angelique, in addition to Paul, moved to Kansas, where they lived the remainder of their lives. (Another chapter in the Vieau story undoubtedly lies buried in the soil of Kansas.)
The Kansas connection may be better understood if one is aware that in 1838, following the 1833 Indian-removal Treaty of Chicago and the subsequent opening of the Milwaukee area to white settlement, United States Army troops rounded-up and forced Milwaukee area American Indians to gather at the "Indian Fields" (near the present-day Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee). The Milwaukee Indians were then forced to journey in a caravan to Kansas and Iowa Territory. Apparently several of the mixed-blood Vieau children felt drawn to their "removed" American Indian friends and kin and also made the journey.
Jacques, Jr., was next. For several years, beginning in 1835, he operated a well-known travelers inn, called the Cottage Inn, in Milwaukee. He also moved to Kansas with his wife Angelique. **23
Joseph came next. He and his wife Elizabeth (nee LaVigne) had twelve children. Joseph is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll.**24
Louis, who later became a "Chief" of the Potawatomi in Kansas, followed next. He died there in 1872, leaving a large estate; the Oregon Trail passed through his Kansas property and he charged a toll for travelers using his ferry. He and his first wife Charlotte, a Potawatomi, had seven children. **25
According to Andrew, his brother Amable, a well known fur trader and one of the founders of Muskego in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, was born next. He is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. **26
Charles, the next son of Jacques and Angelique, also moved to Kansas where he died in 1876; no other information was available about him. **27
Andrew, the narrator of a main source of information about the family, and one of the principal founders of the present-day city of Green Bay, was next. He is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. He and his wife, Rebecca (nee Lawe) had ten children. He died in 1888 (one source states that he died in Kansas) and was buried at the Allouez cemetery in Green Bay. **28
Next came Nicholas, who married Mary (nee LaRocque) and had two children. He is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. Nicholas died in Kansas. **29
Next came Peter, whose narrative was also published by the Wisconsin Historical Society. His first wife was Julia (nee Maynard) with whom he had two children. His second wife was also named Julia (nee McNulty) and they had nine children. Peter is listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. Peter was also a founder of Muskego, and later became a judge there. He died in 1905 at Muskego. **30
The youngest of the eleven children was Mary, who married a French man named LaVigne (the same last name as Joseph's wife's maiden name) and lived in the Wisconsin Rapids area of Wood County. **31
In addition, Angelique raised Josette, a daughter of Jacques Sr. by a Menominee woman from Sheboygan. Josette is also listed on the 1849 Menominee Mixed-blood Roll. Josette became the wife of Solomon Juneau, the first Mayor of Milwaukee. **32
Jacques Vieau probably did not know at the time of his death the magnitude of the contribution his life had made to the history of Wisconsin; however, as I have pointed out in this paper, based on the evidence we now have, there should be no doubt that this "Son of Montreal" was indeed, because of his unique relationships with the American Indian tribal peoples, a true "Father of European Wisconsin."
**1 The information relating to Jacques Vieau's 1833 Chicago experience is from the "Narrative
of Peter J. Vieau," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 15, (Madison, Wisconsin: State
Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1900), 460-461. The narrative, as published, was based on an
interview with Peter J. Vieau conducted by Reuben G. Thwaites, the Secretary and
Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and editor of the Wisconsin
Historical Collections. The family name is spelled "Vieaux" in "Memoir of Charles de
Langlade," by Joseph Tasse, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 7, (Madison, Wisconsin:
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1876), 177; as well as "Veaux" in "Lawe and Grignon
Papers, 1794-1821," Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 10, (Madison, Wisconsin: State
Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1888), 137.
**2 Alice E. Smith, The History of Wisconsin, Vol. I, From Exploration to Statehood (Madison:
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1985), 63-68.
**3 There is some controversy regarding the date of Jacques Vieau's birth and his age when he first arrived at Mackinac from Montreal. His son Andrew states that his father was born in the Montreal area on May 5, 1757 ("Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr." in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11 (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1888), 219). Les and Jean Rentmeester, in their book The Wisconsin Creoles (1987), 342, concur with Andrew. Jacques' son Peter estimates that his father first arrived at Mackinac in 1776; "Narrative of Peter J. Vieau," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 15, 458. On the other hand, L. Paul Landry and Eugene J. Connerton on page 307 of Genealogy of the Juneau Family 1600-1965 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Valmont, Quebec, 1971) give Jacques' date of birth as April 29, 1770. They refuse to believe Andrew Vieau, stating, "... we doubt some of the often erroneous declarations made by the latter [Andrew Vieau] to the Wisconsin State Historical Society." Landry and Connerton cite their reason on page 740 in "Notes on the Vieau family communicated [apparently to them] by Mr. Lionel Audet-Lapointe, St-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec, December 15, 1959"; however, they do not cite Lapointe's source. These authors do not explain their apparent disdain for Andrew's recollections and statements. In the files of St. John the Evangelist parish in Green Bay, Wisconsin, there is a copy of a letter written by Lionel Audet-Lapointe of Montreal to Rev. C. Ropella, Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, dated Montreal, January 6, 1954. The letter (which is quite confusing) states that Lapointe had "found the marriage certificate of [Jacques Vieau's] parents and his birth certificate," in (apparently) the register of Saint Laurent, Montreal. Lapointe continues that the register contains the following: "1770, April 29 - Baptism [emphasis mine] of Jacques, born this day, son of Nicolas Viau and Francoise Lecuyer." At this point, the matter appears to get even more confusing, and problematic, when one considers the strong possibility that Landry, Connerton and their apparent source, Lapointe, may be talking about a different man entirely!
I propose an alternative conclusion based on the following information:
l.) Andrew Vieau clearly states that his father married Angelique (also spelled Angeline), the
daughter of Joseph le Roy (a French trader at La Baye) and an American Indian (Menominee)
woman, in Green Bay in 1786.
2.) Recorded in the Register of Marriages in the Parish of Michilimackinac, translated and
copied into Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 18, (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical
Society of Wisconsin, 1908), 469-513, on page 504 is the record of a marriage performed on
April 20, 1800 by a Justice of the Peace of the United States at Mackinac. The record states that
Jacques Chauvin (notice the spelling of the last name) was married to Angelique, an American
Indian woman, and that neither could write their names in English.
3.) Also recorded in the Register of Marriages in the Parish of Michilimackinac, (Ibid) on page
508, is the record of a marriage performed on July 16, 1804 by a Catholic priest. The record
states that Jacques Jauvan (notice the spelling of the last name), "son of Sieur Jacques Jauvan
and of Francoise L'accuyar" was married to Angelique Roy, daughter of Joseph Roy and an
American Indian woman. The record further states that both Jacques and Angelique put their
"mark" on the document (neither could read or write, as other sources point out).
4.) Andrew (on page 218 of Volume 11 of the Wisconsin Historical Collections) states that his
father's family, for a time, changed their name from the original De Veau because it meant
"calf" and children often made fun of the De Veau children by bleating like a calf.
I (unlike Landry and Connerton) choosing to believe Andrew and his brother (unless shown
definitive evidence to the contrary), hypothesize the following:
1.) In 1786 Jacques, a son of Sieur Jacques Jauvan and Francoise L'accuyar of the Montreal area,
and not the son of son of Nicolas Viau and Francoise Lecuyer, also of the Montreal area
(possibly a second marriage for Francoise), married Angelique Le Roy, the daughter of a French
trader and a Menominee Indian woman, at La Baye in a ceremony recognized by the tribal
peoples and French traders there.
2.) Jacques, who had been working for the Northwest Fur Company as an agent since 1795, probably was running into some problems with United States authorities at Mackinac in 1800 relating to the legitimacy of his 1786 marriage.
Consequently, another marriage took place in accordance with U.S. law before the U.S. Justice
of the Peace at Mackinac in 1800. (He gives his name as Jauvan, but it was spelled Chauvin by
3.) Then, having been born and baptized Catholic, and probably under social pressure from
French Catholic families at La Baye to make his marriage "right" and have his children properly
baptized, the couple made the marriage official in the eyes of the Catholic Church by
exchanging vows before the priest in July of 1804 (the name Jauvan was still used for official
4.) Andrew, who was born in 1812, four years before the United States officially took over
control of the Wisconsin area, and who was the first to record the family history in this area,
appears to have been the first fully literate person of this family line to officially use the last
name Vieau, being adapted from the original, De Veau.
**4 "Narrative of Morgan L. Martin," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11, (Madison,
Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1888), 387. Jacques was also called, "Jean,"
in "Lawe and Grignon Papers, 1794-1821," Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 10, (Ibid),
137. Whenever the name "Jacques" is used, we are referring to Jacques Vieau, Sr., unless other
**5 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11, 218. The
narrative, as published, was based on an interview with Andrew J. Vieau conducted by Reuben
G. Thwaites; "Narrative of Peter J. Vieau," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 15;
"Narrative of Morgan L. Martin," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11. Reuben G.
Thwaites, in an editor's note on page 218 of Andrew Vieau's narrative, states that he (Thwaites)
had "been at much pains to ascertain the soundness" of Andrew Vieau's memory (as well as that
of Peter Vieau) and that "outside evidence" in the form of manuscripts from John Lawe,
Solomon Juneau, and others substantiate the recollections of Jacques Vieau's sons.
**6 Unless otherwise noted, this information, and that which follows is from "Narrative of
Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," as told to Reuben G. Thwaites, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol.
11. Vieau's age at the time he reached Mackinaw was determined by Thwaites, based on
investigating the available evidence.
**7 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," as told to Reuben G. Thwaites, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11, 219; also see information contained within footnote number 3. Cour de Neige may in fact be the area of Montreal known as Cote de Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.
**8 "Narrative of Peter J. Vieau," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 15, 458.
**9 Augustin Grignon, "Recollections of Wisconsin: Seventy-Two Years," in Wisconsin
Historical Collections, Vol. 3, (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
1857), 284, 290-291; "Traders at Milwaukee," in "The Fur Trade in Wisconsin," in Wisconsin
Historical Collections, Vol. 19, (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
1910), 400-401; as well as "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr."
**10 "The Fur Trade in Wisconsin," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 19, 400-401; "Fur
Trade in Wisconsin," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 20, (Madison, Wisconsin: State
Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1911), 360.
**11 Index to Volumes 1-20, Wisconsin Historical Collections, 532; as well as "Narrative of
Andrew J. Vieau, Sr."
**12 Editor's note in "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 220-221.
**13 Editor's note in "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 222.
**14 "Fur-Trade on the Upper Lakes: 1778-1815," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 19,
305-306; "Papers from the Canadian Archives 1778-1783," in Wisconsin Historical Collections,
Vol. 11, 170; as well as "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr."
**15 Grignon, 242; Joseph Tasse, "Memoir of Charles de Langlade," in Wisconsin Historical
Collections, Vol. 7, (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1876), 177;
Wisconsin Historical Collections, Index to Volumes 1-20, 532; "Prairie du Chien Documents,
1814-1815," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 9, (Madison Wisconsin: State Historical
Society of Wisconsin, 1882), 262.
**16 "Lawe and Grignon Papers, 1794-1821," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 10,
98-102; Samuel A. Storrow, "The Northwest in 1817," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol.
6 (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1872), 154, 176; "Dickson and
Grignon Papers - 1812-1815," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 11, 271, 296-297.
**17 "Lawe and Grignon Papers, 1794-1821," 102-103; "Dickson and Grignon Papers -
1812-1815," 271, 296-297.
**18 "Narrative of Peter J. Vieau," 459; "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 224.
**19 "American State Papers, 6 (Indian Affairs, ii)," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol.
11, 224, 360-361.
**20 "Fur-Trade in Wisconsin," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 20, 317-318, 337;
"General Ellis's Recollections," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 7, 240.
**21 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219; The Wisconsin Creoles,
(1987), 161, 343; "List of Mixed Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay Advocate,
June 28, 1849.
**22 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed
Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay Advocate, June 28, 1849.
**23 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343.
**24 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed
Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay Advocate, June 28, 1849.
**25 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; According to
Les and Jean Rentmeester, in The Wisconsin Creoles, 343, Angelique came next, being born
after Lewis and before Amable. However, that may be an error. Jacques's brother Nicholas
apparently had a daughter named Angelique and this may be his daughter. Andrew does not
even mention a sister named Angelique in his narrative. In any event, the Rentmeesters state that
Angelique married Jean Baptiste Macabee (a last name which appears among the Wisconsin
Potawatomi) and had two children.
**26 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay
Advocate, June 28, 1849.
**27 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343.
**28 The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The
Green Bay Advocate, June 28, 1849.
**29 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed
Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay Advocate, June 28, 1849.
**31 Letter dated March 10, 1992 from Gloria Briquelet, Green Bay, Wisconsin, who has also spent many years researching the Vieau family.
**32 "Narrative of Andrew J. Vieau, Sr.," 219-220; The Wisconsin Creoles, 343; "List of Mixed Blood of the Menominee Nation," in The Green Bay Advocate, June 28, 1849.