Elizabeth Munro Fisher, a stepnote to my geneaology
This is a strange story that involves my great aunt, Eva Jay, the older sister of John Jay who was emotionally unstable, her husband the Rev Henry Munro from Scotland and loyal to the crown, his daughter from his first marriage, Elizabeth Munro and her upbringing by step mother Eva Jay, Elizabeth’s marriage to Donald Fisher. The land dispute she had with her father. Their three children. Her two sons who moved West to Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi River to trade in fur. Their marriage into Métis families. The growth of the Métis families. Then Elizabeth in jail in New York.
Let’s start with the Rev Henry Munro and his daughter Elizabeth. He was born in 1730 in highlands of Scotland. He was educated there and went to divinity school of Univ of Edmington graduating in 1757. He then joined as Chaplain the 77th company of Highlanders and served in the new colonies during the Seven Years War. He was married three times. In 1760, to the widow of a fellow officer and they had one daughter, Elizabeth. His wife died after childbirth. He then married in 1763 and again both wife and new born son died. His third marriage was to Eva Jay, in 1766 when she was 38 and he was 36. She was the oldest child of Peter and Mary Jay. She had been introduced to him by her cousin Anne VanCortlandt Chambers at Trinity Church in New York. After their marriage he moved to Albany to become the rector of St Peters Church. They had one child the year after their marriage, Peter Jay Munro who was born at Rye in 1767 and spent his childhood in Albany. This was at the start of our Revolution. The Rev Henry was then forced out of Albany because of his continued ties to the British crown. He was arrested but was able to return to Scotland but never saw his child or wife again. Because of his service with the 77th Highlanders he had been given 200 acres of land in what is now Hebron N.Y., that he called Monroeville, and built a large cabin there. At the time of the Revolution, Eva and her son Peter moved back to be with the family in Rye. Step sister Elizabeth, married in 1776, was instructed to move with her new husband to the cabin built by her father on the land in Hebron. They were not there long and forced to move to Canada. The cabin was burned to the ground by the British. This was the start of a long period of dispute for Elizabeth who felt that her father had given her the title to the land. A problem at that time was that as a woman she could not own property. Her main dispute was with her step brother Peter Jay Munro. She was accused of falsifying the deed.
Elizabeth Fisher late of the town of Hebron in County of Washington, widow, Aug. 29, 1800 with force and arms at the City of Albany . . . feloniously did falsefy, make forge and counterfeit, and cause and procure to be falsely made, and did willingly cut and assist in the false making forging and counterfeiting a certain paper writing sealed, purporting to be a deed of conveyance for certain lands therein mentioned, and to be signed sealed and delivered by one Harry Munro to the said Elizabeth Fisher.
She was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in jail in New York. She entered jail in 1801 and was released in 1806.
Hebron’s beautiful hills and valleys are part of the slate valley of the Upper Taconic Mountains (Taghkanic, meaning ‘in the trees’), and part of the Great Appalachian Valley (also known as the ‘Great Valley’). Thus, many of the main hills, valleys, creeks and roads run diagonally across Hebron in keeping with the general outlay of the Appalachians.
Elizabeth never gained control of this property. It was sold by her step brother Peter Jay Munro about 1800 when she was jailed. Elizabeth, after she had been released from jail in 1806, wrote a memory of her life. This included two things. The first was how unfairly she had been treated by her stepmother Eva during her childhood, and second the unfair treatment she felt she had received from her father and stepson over control of the Hebron property.
About 1800, step mother, Eve Jay Munro had returned to Rye. I believe she was an angry vindictive person her entire life. She was not asked to live at the farm but arrangements for her to live in an apartment in Manhattan were made. At the time of her husbands death she was given no income and was dependent on the support of her family. There is mention of her plea for funds in a letter from Faddy Jay to John Jay with his instruction to give her only what she only needs. I can find little more documentation until a letter from John Jay in 1810 stating that she had developed a left sided palsy and died soon after, at age 81, I believe in her son’s house in Mamaroneck.
Her son, Peter Jay Munro, I think escaped much of her wrath. He was initially educated in Albany. When his mother was forced to return to Rye at the start of the Revolution he was about 13. John and Sarah realized that Eva was not capable of continuing as his parent and they arranged that he would accompany them on their trip to Spain and then France. This worked very well and was the start of a long term association between them. On their return to New York they had Peter engaged in the law office of Aaron Burr and he became a very good and respected lawyer. In fact Peter Augustus spent time training with him. He married in 1790 his second cousin, Margaret White. They lived in Larchmont and they had ten children!
Elizabeth had gone to live with her husband in Montreal. He died there in 1799. She was in New York Prison from 1801 to 1806. Then I believe she lived in several New York City apartments and died in 1845 in New York City. Elizabeth, like her step mother, was also an angry and vindictive person who had to deal with personal loses all her life.
With her marriage to Donald Fisher, living in Montreal, she had three children. A son was born in 1776, Henry Munro Fisher. A second son, Alexander, was born six years later in 1782 and their third child, a daughter, Elizabeth in 1784. All three children were raised in Montreal. Her husband died in 1799 when the children were still young. Her oldest was 22 the youngest was 12.
I.HENRY MUNRO FISHER
Her oldest child, Henry Munro Fisher, about age 18 had become acquainted with a Montreal fur trading family and decided to enter the fur trade. He joined the Northwest Trading Company, and moved West to Prairie du Chien a small town on the Mississippi River in what is now Wisconsin about 1795.
Prairie du Chien (/ˌprɛri du ˈʃiːn/) is a city in and the county seat of Crawford County, Wisconsin, United States.
Often referred to as Wisconsin’s second oldest city, Prairie du Chien was established as a European settlement by French voyageurs in the late seventeenth century. The city is located near the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, a strategic point along the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway that connects the Great Lakes with the Mississippi. Early French visitors to the site found it occupied by a group of Fox Indians led by a chief whose name Alim meant chien in French (dog in English). The French explorers named the location Prairie du Chien, French for “Dog’s Prairie”. Originally this name applied only to the plain upon which the settlement is located, but it was later applied to the city as well.
In 1685, the French explorer Nicolas Perrot established a trading post in the area as part of the large and lucrative French fur trade industry. After Americans entered the trade in the nineteenth century, John Jacob Astor built the Astor Fur Warehouse, an important building in the regional fur trade, which was centered in Prairie du Chien. The significance of Prairie du Chien as a center of the fur trade did not diminish until the mid-nineteenth century, when European demand declined, as did game stock.
In Prarie du Chien he married in 1796 Madeline Gauthier DeVerville and they had three children. Madeline has a complex genealogy. She is Métis of Objiway parentage. Her father had many marriages at least two to Indian woman. Henry was first employed by the North West Company, and then set up a private company. This prospered. Upon the organization of Indiana Territory he was appointed Aug. 19, 1802, a captain of militia, a title he continued to use. Madeline, his first wife died In 1809, and Fisher married for his second wife Marianne Lasalière of Mackinac. They had one daughter, Elizabeth. His second wife’s mother was the daughter of Ottawa Indian Chief, Returning Cloud, Kewinaquot. Marianne was also a Métis.
The Métis (/meɪˈtiː/) are a polyethnic Indigenous group whose homeland is in Canada and parts of the United States between the Great Lakes region and the Rocky Mountains. The Métis trace their descent to both Indigenous North Americans and European settlers. Not all people of mixed Indigenous and Settler descent are Métis, as the Métis is a distinct group of people with a distinct culture and language. Since the late 20th century, the Métis in Canada have been recognized as a distinct Indigenous peoples under the Constitution Act of 1982; and have a population of 587,545 as of 2010. The Métis ethnogenesis began in the fur trade, and they have been an important group in the history of Canada, as well as the foundation of the province of Manitoba. The Métis have homelands and communities in the U.S., as well as in Canada, that have been separated by the drawing of the U.S.-Canada border at the 49th parallel North.
The War of 1812–15 was breaking out, Fisher was unwilling to take part against the Americans, so he retired to the Red River country in Canada and entered the Hudson Bay Company. He did not returning to Prairie du Chien for over ten years. In 1827 he died at Prairie du Chien at age 69 from the effects of fever.
With Henry’s first marriage to Madeline Gauthier de Verville in 1796 three children were born.
HENRY MUNRO FISHER, III
The oldest son, Henry Munro Fisher(III) born 1799, had many marriages and many offspring. Henry(III) had several homes, part of this being his assigned to different trade centers with Hudson Bay and with the Northwest Trade Company. For awhile he lived in the Red River area of Manitoba and had marriages while there. Later in his life he settled in St Boniface, the French part of Winnipeg in Manitoba and stayed there. I count 5 marriages with unknown number of children. His life was focused on the fur trade and the trading posts that it involved.
St Boniface was started by Fur traders and European mercenaries to protect the fledgling Red River Colony in Manitoba were among the area’s first European settlers. With the founding of a Roman Catholic mission in 1818, St Boniface began its role in Canadian religious, political and cultural history – as mother parish for many French settlements in Western Canada; as the birthplace of Louis Riel and fellow Métis who struggled to obtain favorable terms for Manitoba’s entry into Confederation;
Their middle child, Jane, born 1804, had two marriages. The first was to Joseph Rolette who was head of the trade post at Prairie du Chien. They had three children. When he died she married his younger partner, Hercules Louis Dousman and they had one son. He was very successful in business and she and her son inherited a large fortune when he died. Her son left Prairie du Chien when he married, but returned later in life, tore down the old house and rebuilt it. It is now a museum.
Hercules Louis Dousman (August 4, 1800 – September 12, 1868) was a fur trader and real-estate speculator who played a large role in the economic development of frontier Wisconsin. He is often called Wisconsin’s first millionaire.
Dousman was born in 1800 on Mackinac Island, Michigan, the son of Michael Dousman, a prominent local fur trader, and his wife. His father was highly successful and sent the son back East to be educated in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. For a period he worked as a clerk in a New York City store.
After Dousman returned to Mackinac Island, he was employed by the American Fur Company, which his father had served as an agent following the War of 1812. In 1826, the company sent Dousman to the frontier settlement of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he worked as an assistant to Joseph Rolette, the company’s local agent.
In Prairie du Chien, Dousman proved his abilities as a trader, quickly rising in the company’s ranks. By 1834 he had acquired an interest in the company’s Western Outfit, and in 1840 he became an equal partner in the business together with Joseph Rolette and Henry Hastings Sibley.
In 1842 the American Fur Company declared bankruptcy, as the European market had declined, and furs were harder to find in the West. To continue in the trade, Dousman entered into a joint venture with Rolette, Sibley, and Pierre Chouteau (of St. Louis, Missouri) to organize a new company to replace it on upper Mississippi. A few months later, Rolette died in debt to the new company, and most of his estate was seized by the remaining partners, including Dousman. With this and other revenue, Dousman acquired more wealth. He began to invest in lumber mills in northern Wisconsin and real estate in some of the state’s growing population centers. Timber was in high demand in the developing settlements of the upper Midwest.
As Dousman began building his investments during the 1830s, he began a long affair with Margaret Campbell, a local Prairie du Chien woman, who may have been of mixed-race. Together they had three children: Emily, George, and a third unnamed child who died at birth in 1838. Campbell also died of complications at this birth.
In 1844, two years after Joseph Rolette’s death, Dousman married his widow, Jane Fisher Rolette. Together the couple moved into the large two-story brick house that Dousman had constructed a year earlier. Hercules and Jane Dousman had one son, Hercules Louis Dousman II, who was born on April 3, 1848, the year that Wisconsin became a state.
The youngest son of Henry and Madeline, George born 1805, married, stayed in Prairie du Chien and had six children. His children had a lot of children! Son George married Emily Boyer in 1858 and had eleven children. Ambrose married Rosalie Chilafoux and had six children. They both lived and raised their children in Saskatchewan.
George Fisher moved to Lebret, Saskatchewan and raised his family there. I believe at this time he also worked for the Northwest Trading Company.
Lebret is a village within the rural municipality of North Qu’Appelle No. 187, in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The village is situated on Mission Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley. The village was named after “the parish priest, Father Louis Lebret, who became the first postmaster of the community and, although he only held the position for a little more than six months, the office was named Lebret and the name became that of the community.”
The site of Lebret first came to non-First Nations outside attention in 1814 when Abbé Provencher visited. It “became the main centre of Catholicism for the Métis and First Nations people in the region and a base for Oblate priests who travelled the southern plains to points such as Wood Mountain and the Cypress Hills.” Until the latter half of the 20th century Lebret was an important religious and educational centre.
Ambrose moved to Duck Lake and worked with the North West Trading Company.
Southbranch Settlement was the name ascribed to a series of French Métis settlements on the Canadian prairies in the 19th Century, in what is today the province of Saskatchewan. Métis settlers began making homes here in the 1860s and 1870s, many of them fleeing economic and social dislocation from Red River, Manitoba. The settlements became the centre of Métis resistance during the North-West Rebellion when in March 1885, Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont, Honoré Jackson, and others set up the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan with their headquarters at Batoche. The Settlements stretched along both sides of the South Saskatchewan River in river lot style from Fish Creek north through Batoche and St. Laurent to St. Louis which was its northern boundary. They included Duck Lake 12 kilometers from St. Laurent accessed by the St. Laurent Ferry. They were proximal to several Cree reserves, as well as Anglo-Metis settlements to the north around Prince Albert. In the 1880s the population of the Southbranch settlements may have been as high as 1300 with 40 to 60 families living in each of the four largest communities.
ELIZABETH THERESA FISHER
Henry’s second marriage was to Marianne LaSalerie in 1810 and they had one child, Elizabeth Theresa Fisher, who married her teacher, in 1824, Henry Samuel Baird. They moved to Green Bay, and he became the first lawyer in the territory. He was committed to problems with Indian rights. Green Bay, a Métis area, became their home.
II. ALEXANDER FISHER
The younger brother of Henry, Alexander had also moved West and would also work in the fur trading industry. He would marry in 1830 a Métis bride, Angelic Savard and they would have at least 9 children. His advice to his nephew was not followed!
You must not on any account get yourself entangled with the squaws for if you do, you are a lost man, you will get a family and of a spurrious kind, that you will regret as long as you live. Now if you have any send them from you. Do not let such a weakness get the better of you. It would require a chapter to write you the evils that attend such a concubinage.
Alexander Fisher, exhibited the rather “condescending attitudes and licentious behavior” of many of his peers. He was also reportedly a rather flighty and disreputable character. Governor George Simpson, whose comments were admittedly rarely complimentary described him as a “trifling thoughtless superficial lying creature.” Other correspondents support these claims, referring to him as an unscrupulous and vindictive man. He had two marriages. The first was to Angelic Savard, a Métis in 1830. Her mother was an Indian woman. They lived most of their time at Fort Simpson. They had at least nine children and I could find little record of their lives after.
His second wife was in 1843 to Elsie Taupier, also a Métis with an Indian mother. They had one child born in 1843, Marie Fisher who married in 1858 Charles Phillips Gaudet and lead a distinguished life in Fort Good Hope, in the Northwest Territories. This is a isolated part of the North. They had several children many of whom died in childhood. One daughter, Belle, survived and four sons who worked in the area with the Hudson Bay Company. Belle made one trip East which was very hard on her and on return to Fort Good Hope, never left. Her husband retired to Quebec in 1930 with 2 sons and some grandchildren, and died during the trip.
Marie died at Fort Good Hope in 1914 and her husband died in 1917.
Fort Good Hope, formerly Fort Hope, also now known as the Charter Community of K’asho is a charter community in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is located on a peninsula between Jackfish Creek and the east bank of the Mackenzie River, about 145 km (90 mi) northwest of Norman Wells. The two principal languages are North Slavey and English. Hunting and trapping are two major sources of income. The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope, a National Historic Site, is located in the community. The church, completed in 1885, was once home to Father Émile Petitot.
It is a community that can only be approached today by air. The winter is a long nine months, spring and summer are three.
III. ELIZABETH FISHER
The third child, daughter Elizabeth, was raised in Montreal and never married. She probably stayed with her mother after her jail time in New York, and then after her mother’s death in 1845, returned to Canada.
With the move of Elizabeth’s two sons to the West a lot changed. They both married woman with Indian parentage. Thus all their children were Métis. Both sons stayed involved in the fur trading world and worked with several trading companies.
Marriage as a trading strategy
American historian Bruce White described the way in which the Ojibwe and the other Indian peoples sought to “use sexual relations as a means of establishing long-term relationships between themselves and people from another society was a rational strategy, one that has been described in many parts of the world”. One fur trader who married an Ojibwe woman himself described how the Ojibwe would initially shun a fur trader until they could give gauge his honesty and provided he proved himself an honest man, “the chiefs would take together take their marriageable girls to his trading house and he was given the choice of the lot”. If the fur trader married, the Ojibwe would trade with him as he became part of the community and if he refused to marry, then the Ojibwe would not trade with him as Ojibwe only traded with a man who “took one of their women for his wife”.
One study of the Ojibwe women who married French fur traders maintained that the majority of the brides were “exceptional” women with “unusual ambitions, influenced by dreams and visions—Out of these relationships emerged the Métis people whose culture was a fusion of French and Indian elements.
As noted my Métis connection all comes from my step sister Elizabeth two sons, Henry and Alexander. Their descendants branched out through the fur bearing world of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada and what would become the States of Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota in the United States. Fur was a big industry in the early 1800’s. This was also a big factor uniting the Indian nations and the French and English fur trappers and traders. The fur trade came to an end in 1870. Reduction in the number of beaver was part. A larger part was the change in styles in London. The hats made from Beaver pelts were no longer the fashion. Silk took over. Before this there was competition over the trading of beaver. The Hudson Bay Company had been given a very large territory extending from the Hudson Bay down to what is now Wisconsin in about 1760. In competition the Northwest trading company emerged in 1800 and both Henry and Alexander and several of their descendants worked for them. In 1832 the two companies were merged. The Northwest company had gone through financial problems and was taken over by the Hudson Bay Company. There were a large number of Métis descendants in Canada and parts of the United States Mid west. Henry had children that had settled away from Prairie du Chien. His oldest son, Alexander, was brought up in St Boniface in Manitoba and moved to Lebret, Saskatchewan. His oldest son, also Alexander moved to Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan became the settling point for this family. Another Métis child, Marie Lalouise Fisher, married and moved to Ste Rose du Lac, in Manitoba. His daughter Jane Fisher, stayed in Prairie du Chien, with her two marriages. One of her children, “Jolly Joe” Rolette settled in what is now Leroy, North Dakota. Brother Alexander also had children who moved. His daughter from his second marriage moved North to Fort Good Hope and this became the home for her and her family. I do not have good records of all the descendants of Henry and Alexander that were added to the Métis population but large families were the rule.
The fur industry ended about 1870 and the role of the Hudson Bay Company decreased. New roles were needed. Many of the Métis stayed in the towns they were in. Meanwhile Canada and the Northwestern United States were growing with new immigrants. Change was coming!