Pierre LaRiviere was my 4th G-G Grandfather. Here's are some of my saved notes;
History of the LaRiviere Family
The LaRiviere family descends from French Canadian Trappers and Voyagers who settled in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin prior to the mid 1700s- this includes Old Pierre LaRiviere, his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Peter H. LaRiviere, one of his great-grandsons, was born in Prairie Du Chien on February 15, 1826. He moved to Wabasha, Minnesota and married Harriet Buisson on July 12, 1854. His surname was spelled Larevier on some documents. His marriage certificate states that he was a white man and that his trade was voyager. Peter and Harriet had nine children: David, Lucy Ann, Peter Henry, Agnes, William, Catherine,Isedor, Joseph and Clara. Most of their children stayed in the Wabasha area. Peter Henry Jr. (born in March of 1857) became a river pilot on the Mississippi. He married Mary Carrels when he was 35. They had three children: Harriett, Ignatius and Peter. He died at age 42 of a heart attack before his last child, Pete, was born. Here is their story.
The LaRiviere family was one of the oldest French Canadian families. They were Indian traders in the Northwest Territory. Like many French names it has been changed in spelling and form, so that the real nameshave been lost. According to one source, our proper family name is Des Rivieres. There is speculation that our original patriarch in the New World was Antoine Trottier Labissoniere, sieur des Ruisseaux, dit des Rivieres who was born in was born in Perche, France and led a trademission of nine Frenchmen to Chequamogeon Bay in Canada from 1660 to 1663. In 1763, when the English took over what later became Wisconsin, Francis Amable LaRiviere (born in 1732) was trading on the Wisconsin River. His wife was the sister of the French Canadian commander at Detroit before the English took over that city. When Francis died, his widow married James McGill, who founded McGill University at Montreal.
From the Internet sites, "Trade Goods" and "Metis Descendants":
Most of us whose ancestors trace back to Wisconsin or upper Great Lakes will have at least one Metis (French/Canadian & Native American Mixed-blood) branch. The Native American ancestry is found in recent archeological and anthropological studies to go back at least 15,000 to 17,000 years. Metis, and other mixed-blood lines, go back to the 1600's,as the Fur Traders formed marriage unions with indigenous women. Thiswas a perfect match, as the women had centuries of skill in the preparation of goods and trade negotiations. Metis families tended to live in "clan" settlements and marriages were generally between mixed-bloodfamilies. In the mid 1800's the US Government did not recognize the significant numbers of "Mixed-blood" people on records and individuals had to exclusively choose either "White" or "Indian" status, which is why subsequent records do not indicate a mix of lineage, even when there is such a legend passed down in families through the generations. Regardless of what was chosen then, the people of today carry this richness of heritage within them.
From the "History of Richland and Crawford Counties" (1884):
In 1766 La Prairies les Chiens (now known as Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin) was a large Indian village of about 300 families. The houses werewell built after the Indian manner, and pleasantly situated on a veryrich soil, from which they raised every necessary of life in great abundance. Early explorers reported seeing many houses of a good size and shape. The town was a great marketplace where all the adjacent tribes, and even those who inhabited the most remote branches of the Mississippi, annually assembled about the latter end of May, bringing with them their furs to dispose of to the traders.
To five Canadians of French descent belongs the honor of being the first settlers in what is now Crawford County, Wisconsin in about 1781 -Basil Giard, Pierre Antaya, Augustin Ange, Michael Brisbois and Pierre La Pointe. The LaRiviere family settled in the Prairie the following year and married into the Antaya and LaPointe families. Pierre Antaya was a farmer. His wife had some Fox Indian blood in her veins. They raised a large family, mostly girls. Antaya died soon after the peace of 1815, between the United States and Great Britain. Pierre La Pointe was well educated and well informed. He was one of the best of Indian interpreters, and his services were much in quest by the traders. In 1817 he was in the employ of Joseph Brisbois at Bad Ax. He died three or four years later, a little past seventy years of age. His wife was a sister of the Sioux chief, Wabasha. They raised a large family. La Pointe was a sensible, good man, and serviceable to the prisoner settlement in Crawford county and to the Indians.
The following excerpts are from an account of Pierre La Point and his Indian wife Etoukasahwee written by Sophie Eddy, a descendant.
"The Sioux Indians inhabited the whole country north of Wisconsin River and adjacent to the Mississippi. In 1634 or there about, many French voyagers and traders began emigrating to this part of the country seeking to purchase the lands which were rich in minerals of various kinds and in many instances successful in securing valuable land, paying for it in worthless trinkets and blankets and what ever took the fancy of the Indians.
The white men coming from Europe usually were educated men, some of good families seeking adventure and fortune in this beautiful land. Many of them married Indian maidens, some by law of the white man and some by Indian law.
Wabasha, the great chief of the Sioux had several sisters, one who married a Canadian Frenchman. Her name was Etoukasahwee. She was a tall slender girl of a timid nature and retrieving manner particular to themaids of the Sioux Indians. In her early youth she was chosen by Pierre La Pointe for his wife, her brother Wabasha consenting to the marriage which ceremony was conducted according to the customs at that time.
A large patch of ground attached to their premises enabled them to raise all the necessities of their simple table. In front of the cabin was a sandy beach making a fine landing for boats of any kind. This beach was the playground of all the children of the village. The river atthe place was broad and swift and many times in Spring and Fall the Indians would come from their northern hunting expeditions and their canoes would line the shore for half a mile. They came down the river kneeling in their long canoes, several in each boat, each having a paddle and giving stroke for stroke, silently and swiftly gliding through the water and slip onto the sand without a sound. Their children, playing on the sand would run to meet and greet these mild men with happy smiles, following them without fear going with them to their homes where they were welcomed by the elders and seating themselves on their hammock or stretching themselves upon the floor as was their custom - nofear or dread of these men of the wild. The men were given some simple food and drink. They came to trade their furs for blankets, calico cloth and many trinkets at the village store and depart as silently asthey came.
During the wars between the Sioux and the Chippewas the residents' lives were in danger many times. The women many times took their children far into the woods to live for days until they were sure they wouldbe safe in their home."
Settlement of Prairie du Chien
Of those who followed the first five Canadians settled at the Prairie, within a few years, were: Pierre LaRiviere, Charles La Pointe, Francois La Pointe, and a brother of the two last named; also, one MichaelLa Pointe. Of others who settled at the Prairie before the year 1820,there were Julian LaRiviere and Joseph Lemrie (whose name is spelled in land records as Joachim Lamierre - which may be a misspelling of LaRiviere).
These first occupants consisted of traders and voyagers who engaged almost exclusively in traffic with the Indians. They usually passed thewinter months at the Indian villages, and during the summer transported their collection of furs to Mackinaw, returning with their canoes laden with goods for the next season's trade, and a supply of provisions. Occasionally a voyageur, wearied with his roving life, or unable longer to endure its hardships, settled down and devoted himself exclusively to farming.
The French settlement made little if any further growth of progress. In 1817 the number of houses was not more than thirty-eight. In 1820, the place is described as containing, in all, about eighty buildings, including those of the garrison, being mostly shabby constructions of logs and bark and surrounded by picket yards. The traders were generally men of considerable wealth, for it required means to carry on theirbusiness, provide stocks of goods and provisions for long periods, and transport them hundreds of miles by oarsmen kept constantly employed for that purpose. Many of them were gentlemen.
The voyageurs constituted a very different class; they were generallyvery poor, and dependent on their small wages, which barely sufficed to supply them with the simplest necessaries of life. Although there was no administration of law, the will of their employers, enforced by possession of their subsistence, was very nearly absolute over them, and the distinctions of master and servant were strongly marked. The houses of the wealthy, though constructed of logs, sometimes clapboarded, yet rude and unattractive in external appearance, were comfortably,neatly and even elegantly furnished. Those of the poorer class were very inferior structures, often without floors, and with straw for a covering, while their furniture consisted of a few rude kitchen utensils, benches and other domestic requirements, equally meager. Such a state of affairs could only exist in a primitive community, far removed from the rest of the civilized world.
A sort of middle class eventually sprung up in the small farmers scattered about the prairie, who were somewhat less dependent upon the will and caprice of the aristocratic traders.
Amid these conditions, apparently favorable to the development of lawlessness and violence, these people, surrounded by savage life, were remarkably characterized by docility, habitual hospitality, and a disposition submissive to any authority assumed over them. Violent crimes were extremely rare, even when the village was the scene of drinking and carousing throngs. Moral standards were somewhat relaxed. There were no schools or churches at first. For amusement, the traders enjoyed "rude dances", foot and horse racing, and other similar sports, copiously enlivened by the free use of intoxicating liquors.
Life was not easy for the early settlers. In 1826, occurred the highest flood in the Mississippi that had then been seen since the year 1785. The river rose twenty-six feet inundating the site of the old village. The cholera epidemic of 1832 reached the county and about 100 soldiers died in two weeks in the garrison at Prairie du Chien. In 1833, smallpox broke out, but did not extend greatly among the white inhabitants, although it made serious ravages among the Indians. In 1836, in Crawford county speculation ran wild --- as in many other places in thewest - and led to financial difficulties for some of the residents.
There is a story about a miner named Grant who discovered lead near what is now the Grant River. He mined some of it and buried the mineralfor safekeeping; however, he went away, and never returned for it. Aslate as 1827, three young men, including Julian LaRiviere went in quest of the hidden mineral searching all along to the head of the river,but found none.
In the fall of 1836, the total population outside of Fort Crawford was 537 in the county, including one slave. The names of the heads of LaRiviere families, and the number in each family are shown in the following chart. The variation in spelling of the name is probably a result of census takers writing the name phonetically.
Head of FamilyMalesFemalesTotal
The social circle, although limited, was by no means insignificant. It was composed of the families of the garrison and the Americans, andseveral of the old settlers. If it was small, it was also united by the ties of friendship and good feeling. Free from the formalities and customs that are observed by the elite of that day, the settlers met to enjoy themselves, more like members of one family than as strangers. From one old pioneer's memoirs: "The young people of that period (and we all felt young then) would assemble on a few hours' notice at the house of a neighbor, without form or ceremony. Young ladies were expected to appear at an early hour in the evening, and not at the usualhour of retiring to rest; nor were they required to appear in court or fancy dresses. The merry dance followed, and all enjoyed themselvesuntil the early hours in the morning. One custom prevailed universally among all classes, even extending to the Indians; that of devoting the holidays to festivity and amusement, but especially that of 'calling' on New Year's Day. This custom was confined to no class in particular. All observed it; and many met on that day, who did not again meetuntil the succeeding year. All then shook hands, and exchanged mutualgood wishes. All old animosities were forgotten, all differences settled, and universal peace established."
But the delights of pioneer life carried with them many difficulties and hardships. C. M. Baker, in his address at an old settlers' meetingin 1869, says:
"What of the women? Most of them had been delicately reared, and wereaccustomed to the luxuries and refinements of cultivated society; andmost, or all, had good homes, with the necessaries and conveniences of life in abundance, and were surrounded by kind friends and dear relatives. To these they had been bred; to all these they were strongly attached. But these ties were sundered, these homes were left behind, when, after the last trunk was packed, and the last farewell was sadly uttered, they set their faces westward for a new life and a new home, they knew not whither; but they knew it must be among strangers. They shared with us the toils of the journey, the weary miles of sunshine and storm, as we journeyed on and onward. The partook with us of the coarse fare and rude accommodations of the wagon and wayside, the canal-boat and the steamer, the log-tavern, and the bivouac under the open heavens, all this they encountered without murmuring, and cheerfully. And when, late in autumn or early spring, it may be, in the cold storm,or driving mists and chilly winds that cut to the bone, they took their departure from Chicago or Milwaukee, the last outposts of civilization over those low, lonely prairies which surrounded the one, or through the gloomy forests which enveloped the other, over dismal roads beset with ruts or stumps, without sign of cultivation or human habitation, then it was that the hour of bitter trial came to their hearts; then it was, that, amid their loneliness and utter heart-desolation, thedear homes and kindred they had left, rose up before them, and, through their tears, they looked down upon the little ones who clung to them.
When we, at last (some later, some earlier), had found a place where to make a home in these pleasant groves and prairies, pleasant to us men; for here there were herds of bounding deer, and flocks of wild fowl, the wolf and the sand-hill crane, and game, large and small, to give us sport. The lakes and streams abounded in fish, and we could takethem at our will. The country was all open, and free to roam over as one great park. There was excitement for us in all this, suited to ourrougher natures and coarser tastes. We could roam and fish or hunt aswe pleased, amid the freshness and beauties of nature.
But how was it for our wives? From all these bright, and, to us, fascinating scenes and pastimes, they were excluded. The were shut up withthe children in log-cabins, when they were fortunate enough to get them, rude huts, without floors often, and, not unfrequently, without doors or windows, while the cold, bleak winds of March and December whistled through them. Frequently the roofs of the cabins were covered with shakes fastened on with poles, between which the stars at night looked down upon the faithful mother and her sleeping infants.
Here, in one small room, filled, perhaps, with smoke; without furniture, except a little of the rudest kind, rough slab stools, an equally rough table, and a bedstead, if any, made of poles fastened into the house; without kitchen-utensils, save, perchance, a kettle, a skillet, and a frying-pan; destitute of crockery, and with a little tinware, they were called upon to do, unaided, the duties of a housewife. With these conveniences and these surroundings, they took upon them for weeksand months, and even for years, the burden of their households in a continued struggle with hinderances and perplexities. These were the heroic women to whom our hearts did homage; and I should fail in my dutyat this time, if, in the roll-call of worthy and honorable names, they should not be remembered."
One branch of the LaRiviere family settled near Chippewa Falls and went to work for a sawmill. In 1830, or thereabout, Judge J. H. Lockwood, under a license from the war department and by consent of the Sioux, to whom he paid an annual ground rent, built a saw-mill on the Red Cedar branch of the Chippewa, at which establishment some gardening, but no farming was done. In 1838, after the treaties with the Indians of 1837 had been ratified, one company ascended the St. Croix to the Falls of Chippewa; and in 1839, another company went to the Falls of Black river --- all of them to build and run sawmills.
Early Farming in Crawford County.
For about sixty years after the first settlement within the present limits of the county, farming was wholly confined to the "prairie," andthe methods employed to carry it on were very primitive. The traders had to send down for their corn that they used and trade for it.
Eventually, the farmers of Prairie du Chien raised a large quantity of small grain, such as wheat, barley, oats, peas, and also some potatoes and onions. Every two or three farmers united and had a horse flouring-mill; the stones being cut from the granite rock found in the country. There they ground their wheat, and sifted the flour by hand. Thesurplus flour was sold to the Indian traders for goods, or exchanged with the Indians for venison, ducks and geese, or dressed deerskins, as there was no money in circulation in the country. Any purchase madewas payable in goods from the traders or flour from the inhabitants.
Generally, the traders would let the farmers set their price on what they had to sell, without grumbling or saying anything about its beinghigh, as it was payable in goods; the trader would just adjust his price for the goods he was trading --- so each party got all he asked, and neither had cause for complaint.
There is a story about a transaction that took place between Pierre LaRiviere and a trader named Michael Brisbois. Pierre LaRiviere was an ambitious man and he wanted his neighbors to think that he was the best farmer in the country. He went to see Mr. Brisbois to find out what he was paying for flour, which was then six dollars per 100 pounds.Pierre, wanting to boast to his neighbors that he had gotten more forhis flour than they did, asked Mr. Brisbois to pay him more than the market value for his flour. When Brisbois said he could not do that, Mr. LaRiviere replied, "You can make it up by charging more for the goods with which you pay me" and so they closed the bargain.
After years of hard labor in the fur trade, many voyageurs settled atPrairie du Chien. They built hand-hewn log houses and decorated them with simple furnishings reflecting the homes they had left behind in Montreal. The historic LaRiviere-Ravoux House has been completely restored and is part of a bed and breakfast in Prairie du Chien. The house was constructed about 1840 by Pierre LaRiviere, a prosperous farmer, on land owned by Michel LaRiviere. Tradition says that the house was used by the priests who served St. Gabriel's parish and in the spring of 1843 Pére Ravoux stayed in the house. For several months Ravoux carefully translated the Catholic catechism into the Sioux language, thenleft Prairie du Chien to return to his mission in Minnesota.
There is another story about the LaRiviere family in the history of Crawford County. Julian LaRiviere is credited with saving the life of ababy girl who had been left for dead by the Indians. Louisa Cherrier was born on August 15, 1826 - the same year as our ancestor Peter Henry LaRiviere. On June 11, 1827, four Indians entered the house of Louisa's family unnoticed. Louisa's mother asked them to have dinner; but they replied: "We are not hungry, but thirsty." She satisfied their wants, and watching them closely, she said to her husband in French: "These Indians mean to do us some harm."
One of the Indians left his chair, and took down her father's gun. Her father instantly rose and seized his gun back. At that moment, an Indian named "Little Sun" fired a concealed gun and shot Louisa's father. Her three year-old brother started crying, so her Mother picked him up, ran out of the house and hid in the timber. Baby Louise crawledunder the bed.
Her mother left her hiding place, mounted a horse with her young son in her arms and went searching for help in the village. The Indians found Baby Louise and according to court testimony, they kicked her, struck her with the breech of the gun, and cut her across the back of herneck intending to behead her. Then they took her scalp. When the people from the village reached the house, her father was dead. The Indians were gone. Louisa was lying in a pool of blood, and supposed to be dead. Julian LaRiviere, Jr. wrapped the baby in his handkerchief, and carried her to his fathers house, where some hours later, when being washed preparatory to burial, she was first discovered to be alive and was eventually nursed back to health.
Louisa was adopted by the LaRiviere family and raised in home of Julien LaRiviere. She grew up, married and lived to an old age.
Old Pierre LaRiviere was born in St. Joseph Parish, Quebec in about 1750. Pierre and his wife Marie Ottawa (thought to be a Chippewa Indian) were the parents of Pierre LaRiviere II, who was born in about 1770and died in 1841.
Pierre II was close to thirty when he arrived in Prairie du Chien andmarried Marguerite (Margaret) Antaya dit Peltier. She was the daughter of Pierre Antaya dit Peltier and Catherine Laplander, a half-breed Fox woman. Pierre and Marguerite had three sons; Julien, born in 1804;Michael, born in 1806; and Baptist, born in 1808. There may have beenanother son who died young.
During this period of time, Wisconsin was a wilderness area. Many of the inhabitants would marry without a legal or religious ceremony. In some cases, a friend or family member would officiate in a makeshift ceremony until a priest traveled through the area.
The following civil wedding ceremonies were found on slips of paper in the archives of the office of the County Clerk of Crawford County in 1983.
"Pierre Larivierre and Margaret Antaia. Certificate June 2, 1823 by J.H. Lockwood, J.P"
"Julien Larivier and Madelaine LaPointe. Certificate June 12, 1826 byN. Voilvin, J.P."
"Michel Larivier and Catharine Rock. Certificate September 10, 1827 at PdC by Clement F. Jones, minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church."
"Baptiste Larivierre and Theotice Lagoterie. Certificate July 12, 1834 by J.H. Lockwood, J.P."
The traveling Priest would only come through the Wisconsin territory once every ten or fifteen years. After a missionary visit of Father Joseph Dunand to Prairie du Chien in 1817, there were no further visits until 1827 when Father Francois Vincent Badin from Detroit visited thearea, staying from May through November. He returned in August 1828 and stayed for one year. Father Badin's records are held by the archives of St. Mary's College in Montreal and vary in their accuracy. In some cases there are duplications, and others there are blanks where he either neglected to gather the required information or couldn't read his own notes. The original records are handwritten in French and not always easy to decipher.
During Father Badin's visit to Prairie du Chien in 1828 through 1829,he transcribed the following church records for the LaRiviere family.
September 9, 1828 - Julien LaRiviere, adult son of Pierre LaRiviere and Marguerite Antailla, native and resident of the Parish of Prairie du Chien; and Magdelaine LaPointe, adult daughter of Francois LaPointeand Marie Antailla, native and resident of the same parish, were married according to the rites of the church in the presence of Joseph Range, Michel LaRiviere and others. The couple recognize as their legitimate child Marguerite, born June 12, 1827.
November 30, 1828 - "Pierre LaRiviere, born January 15, 1828 of Michel LaRiviere and Catherine Roi, married by a protestant minister. The child was privately baptised by Joseph Brisbois. Godfather was Jean Baptiste LaRiviere. God mother was Magdelaine Brisbois."
May 13, 1829 - "The nuptial blessing was given to Pierre LaRiviere, adult son of the late Pierre LaRiviere and the late Marie, native of the parish of St. Joseph, diocese of Quebec, a resident of this parish for some 40 years; and Marguerite Peltier, adult daughter of the late Pierre Peltier and Catherine, a native and resident of this parish; inthe presence of Francois Chenever, Michel LaRiviere and several others."
May 13, 1829 - "The nuptial blessing was given to Michel Lariviere, adult son of Pierre LaRiviere and Marguerite Peltier, a native and resident of this parish; and Catherine Roch, adult daughter of Augustin Roch, a native and resident of this parish; in the presence of Francois Chenever, Pierre LaRiviere, and several others."
In his last will dated July 27, 1841, Pierre LaRiviere asks his family to bury his remains "with as little expense as decency may require"and to pay his debts "as soon as circumstances will allow." After stating that he had already given his three sons their respective shares of his estate, he leaves his wife a property owner "in her own right" and names her executrix of his estate - something that was very unusual for that day and age. When Pierre's wife dies two years after that,her grandsons Peter and Michel LaRiviere travel to Prairie du Chien from Wabasha, Minnesota to settle the family estate.
Children of Pierre and Marguerite LaRiviere
Julien LaRiviere was born in about 1804 (although in may have been much earlier) and married Madeline (Magdaline) Agnes La Point, daughter of Michael La Point and Marie Antaya on June 12, 1826. They had sixteen children - most of whom lived to adulthood, married and had large families as well. Their children were: Marguerite, Louisa, Madeline, Lucy, Elizabeth, Jeannette, Clarissa, Julien II, Samuel, Clemente, Judson (Joachim), Solomon, Victoria, Julia, Joseph and Theresa.
Julien was a successful farmer and prominent citizen in Prairie du Chien. He built the first wagon bridge in 1837 over the St. Friole River. For a short time, Julien kept a tavern, presumably in his house.
From a Prairie du Chien newspaper dated October 15, 1872, "An Old Citizen Dead. Another citizen of Prairie du Chien died Wednesday night, October 9th, 1872, aged 74 years. Mr. LaRiviere was born in Prairie du Chien in 1798, and had always lived here. Only Gen. B.W. Brisbois and old Mr. Geome now remain of all the born residents of this city."
Michael (Michel) LaRiviere was born in 1806. He was married to Catherine Rock (Roch) by the traveling Priest on September 10, 1827 but had established a home with her sometime before that. Catherine was the daughter of Augustine Rock and a Sioux woman. They had four children: Ambrose and Isedor who probably died young, Pierre (Peter Henry LaRiviere I) whom he named after his father and grandfather, and Michael.
Michael died in October 1834 leaving a widow and two living children,including his seven year-old son, Peter Henry.
Jean Baptiste LaRiviere was born in 1808. He married Theotiste (Letitia) Lagoteria, daughter of Ed Lagoteria and Catherine Antaya on July 12, 1834. His father-in-law was one of two brothers who came to Prairie du Chien as traders for Astor in 1777 and may have been arrested byColonel Talbot Chambers in 1817.
Baptiste and Theotiste had four children: Edward, Alphonse, Philomena and Victoria - all of whom married and had families. Many of Baptiste's grandchildren settled in the Pacific Northwest, making homes in Seattle, Tacoma and in Cordova, Alaska.
I hope this all comes across in one piece. If you would like to look at my tree, let me know, and I'll put you in as family and you'll be able to view it. I would love to put you in my tree. Send your relatives names and such.
My Grandmother was a LaRiviere and was born and raised in Prairie du Chien, WI a very Historic town.
-here's hoping to hear from you soon....Sherry Heitman