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Fort La Framboise

Fort La Framboise

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Aug 24, 2012
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Fort La Framboise.

Joseph La Framboise backed by Joseph Rolette at Prairie du Chien, in an American Fur company venture, came overland in the late fall of 1817, and built a house of driftwood 'dry wood' according to tradition on the Missouri River at the mouth of the Bad River This was the initial settlement in that community, the oldest continuous community in South Dakota. Excerpts from The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pp. 353358, "Joseph La Framboise, First Settler, by Doane Robinson (in the Watertown, South Dakota Library collection): "In 1817 Joseph La Framboise was sent by the American Fur Company from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to establish a fur trading post on the Missouri. He proceeded across the country and established a small fort, which he built from dead logs which he found lodged on the end of a sand bar at the mouth of Teton, or Bad River. He called the post Fort Teton. With the assistance of some Sioux Indians, and two half-breed Frenchman, he had packed a supply of goods, chiefly knives, beads and some cloth from Prairie du Chien. The settlement by him then established has continued to the present time and has evolved into the thriving village of Fort Pierre. I have been unable to determine the exact date of this settlement, but his son Joseph Jr. says it was late in the fall and the river was frozen when he arrived there. After the first stock the post was supplied from St. Louis, by way of the Missouri. How long La Framboise remained at Fort Teton I am unable to determine from the evidence now at hand, though he was still there in 1819, but before 1822 he had returned to Prairie du Chien and was, but Joseph Rolette, manager for the American Fur Company, entrusted with a new enterprise into the Dakota country. This time it came out to the Sioux River at the big bend where Flandreau now is. He procured his goods from Prairie du Chien and traded at Flandreau for five years, and then moved his stock across the Côteau to the headwaters of the Des Moines. Joseph La Framboise, who thus became identified with the earliest settlement in South Dakota, was born at Michilimackinac Island, but the date of his birth I have not yet been able to learn, though it must have been late in the 18th century. His father, Joseph (Francis), was a man of education, refinement and great piety. His mother was a half Ottawa Indian, but a woman of strong character and great ability. Her maiden name was Madeline Marcotte. In 1802 the parents were trading at Milwaukee, but in 1809 their chief post was at Grand Haven, Michigan. That winter, 1809-1810, the father was killed by a Winnebago Indian, while with his family in a tepee; he was on his knees and engaged in prayer. After her husband's death Madame La Framboise continued the business and became one of the most competent and trusted managers of the American Fur Company, having in charge the great depot at Mackinac. As an instance of the forceful character of this remarkable woman it is noticed that after she was fifty years of age she taught herself to read and write and before her death became really proficient in French

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literature. Her highly accomplished daughter, Josette, sister of the frontiersman of Dakota, in 1817 married Capt. Benj. K. Pierce, and officer of the U.S. army, and a brother of President Franklin Pierce. Of the subject of this sketch, the son Joseph, who built Fort Teton, the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society, which deal copiously with his parents, give very little information. We learn that he possessed a college education, having graduated at a very precocious age. That through all the years of his sojourn in the western wilderness he kept with him a small but choice collection of books which he read diligently. Catlin speaks of him as a gracious host and a delightful companion. In 1835 Catlin had met La Framboise at Prairie du Chien, where the latter had given him a very graphic description of the pipestone quarry and made a map of it for the artist. [Quoting Catlin] 'La Framboise has some good Indian blood in his veins, and from his mode of life as well as from a natural passion that seems to belong to the French adventurers in these wild regions, he has a great relish for songs and stories of which he gives us many, and furnishes us one of the most amusing and gentlemanly companions that could possibly be found.' Soon after location on the Des Moines in what is now Murray County, Minnesota in 1828, Mr. La Framboise married a girl of the Dakota tribe, a daughter of Walking Day, one of the head men. In 1829, she bore him a son who was named Joseph. The wife soon after died, and in course of time La Framboise married a daughter of Sleepy Eye, who was a brother of Walking Day's and upon the death of this woman within a few years he married another daughter of Sleepy Eye's. She, too, died young, and in 1845 he married Jane Dickson, the wedding being the first in Nicollet County, Minnesota. By Jane Dickson he reared several children. He died in 1854 at his home where he finally settled in 1839, at West Newton, Minnesota. The eldest son, Joseph, grew up with his Indian relatives, and is a typical Sioux Indian. He rendered the whites inestimable service in the days of the great massacre. At this time, in his 71st year, he resides near Veblin, Marshall County, South Dakota, where I visited him in August last. He is illiterate but intelligent, and has a vivid recollection of his youth and possesses many traditions of the family history which he had learned from his father. He lives on the side of a Côteau where a wooded ravine makes down to the prairie and on either bank, and at a distance of half a mile separating them; he has a home, for he has two wives and a large family by each of them. I was not then informed of the prominence of his relatives of the previous generation, and I was rather startled when with manifest pride he declared, 'I am a cousin of the president's" and I set him down for a boastful old liar, but when I later learned the story of Josette La Framboise as above related, I found that according to Indian reckoning he was justified in the boast. Of the white children of Joseph La Framboise, I have only been able to learn that a son William lives, or recently did live on the old homestead at West Newton, and that two daughters married brothers named Blake, and live in the Fort Ridgeley neighborhood.

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Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Vol. II (Treaties). Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904. Treaty with the Ottawa, etc., 1821. August 29, 1821, 7 Stat., 218. Proclamation, Mar. 25, 1822. Article 3 excerpt: "There shall be granted by the United States to each of the following persons, being all Indians by descent, and to their heirs, the following Tracts of Land:....To Joseph La Framboise, son of Shaw-we-no-qua, one section of land upon the south side of the river St. Joseph, and adjoining on the upper side the land ceded to the United States, which said section is also ceded to the United States."

Footnotes 1. Cindy Appleby's research at http://chandonai.tripod.com/in2.html [159]. "Joseph Framboise." 2. www.FamilySearch.org LDS [1042]. David A. Armour, biographical sketch, FHL SLC US/CAN 971.D3 dv.3; "Joseph P. Fafard." 3. The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pg. 353358, "Joseph La Framboise, First Settler (in Watertown, SD Library collection) [966]. by Doane Robinson. 4. "Therese Schindler" by John E. McDowell, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 61, No. 2, Winter 1977-1978, pg. 125-143, State Historical Society of WI [9]. 5. www.FamilySearch.org LDS [1042]. David A. Armour, biographical sketch, FHL SLC US/CAN 971.D3 dv.3, lists date of birth as 1805. 6. The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pg. 353358, "Joseph LaFramboise, First Settler (in Watertown, SD Library collection) [966]. "born at Michilimacinac Island."
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7. Midwest Pioneers: Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 14, Reminiscences of Mrs. Elizabeth Therese Baird [460], pg. 43. died in "Western Country." 8. The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pg. 353358, "Joseph LaFramboise, First Settler (in Watertown, SD Library collection) [966]. "He died in 1854 at his home where he finally settled in 1839, at West Newton, MN." 9. www.FamilySearch.org LDS [1042]. David A. Armour, biographical sketch, FHL SLC US/CAN 971.D3 dv.3. 10. Midwest Pioneers: Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 14, Reminiscences of Mrs. Elizabeth Therese Baird [460], pg. 40. 11. Ibid., pg. 43. 12. Ibid., pg. 43. 13. Ibid., pg. 43. 14. The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pg. 353358, "Joseph LaFramboise, First Settler (in Watertown, SD Library collection) [966]. 15. "Therese Schindler" by John E. McDowell, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 61, No. 2, Winter 1977-1978, pg. 125-143, State Historical Society of WI [9]. 16. The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1901, No. 11, Third Year, pg. 353358, "Joseph LaFramboise, First Settler (in Watertown, SD Library collection) [966]. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid. 19. Ibid. 20. Ibid. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid.
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27. Ibid.

Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute

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