Marie Madeleine Couc & Maurice Ménard
Notes from Suzanne Sommerville

I am aware that published material out there gives the date of 1684 or 1694 or ... for a marriage of Maurice Ménard (he never used the dit name of Lafontaine, although his father did) and Madeleine Couc dite Lafleur, my ancestors.

It is nevertheless unknown exactly when or even where they married, although it was most probably at Michilimackinac (what is now St. Ignace, Michigan). All that survives is a copied partial record for the birth of their son Antoine at Michilimackinac. PRDH says they married before 1684-12-31, but I do not know the basis for this.

Nevertheless, 7 Jan 1688, Marie Madeleine Couc is still called daughter of her father and not wife of anyone at the baptism of a son of her brother, Louis Couc Montour, and Jeanne Qui . . . [sic] at St François du Lac in the seigneur's house. Godparents: Jean Péré & Marie Madeleine Couc, daughter of Pierre Couc (also not said to be married to anyone).

We know Antoine was baptised in 1695, although I do not see a summary record for his parents' marriage in the surviving __copied__ portion of the extant registers. perhaps having Antoine Laumet dit de Lamothe Cadillac as godfather giving the child his first name, Antoine.

The register on which the baptism of Antoine Mainard, son of __deceased__ Maurice, appears as the first entry is a transcription of an earlier register that no longer exists. This recording of Antoine's baptism is the only item for the 1690s. The next recordings are for 1712 to about 1742, but the only original surviving register begins in 1741, complete with signatures of participants.

Several of the records -"extraits" or extracts- summarized for the period prior to 1742 include information that could have been known only at a later date, for example, that a certain woman is "NOW" (at the time the copy was made) Madame Langlade, an entry for 27 sept 1712, the baptism of "daniel fils de daniel villeneuve et de domitille à present mde. l'langlade". Domitille Oukab8, Ottawa, sister of La Fourche, first married Daniel Amiot dit Villeneuve and then later, after the death of Villeneuve, Augustin Mouet, sieur de Langlade, thus becoming Madame Langlade.

And, of course, Maurice did not die until 1741 at Chambly, photocopy. Maurice, definitely, and probably his wife, were there at Michilimackinac in the post-1713 period (at modern-day Macknaw City). He is documented there in several sources and requested permission to have his wife join him in 1713. They assigned a procuration to his brother, Louis Mesnard, to care for two of their minor daughters and their business affairs (21 septembre 1713, notary Taillhandier, signed by Maurice, very much alive). Their daughter Susanne, married to Gabriel Bolon in 1726 at Michilimackinac, according to the transcribed entries, can also be documented there after the new register began. The home in which the Bolon couple lived has been the subject of an archaeological dig. The Bolons were also at Fort St. Joseph (now Niles, Michigan).

I have much more but have not yet written my account of this couple. Descendants can be truly proud of them.

The chief of the Fox Indians, Pemoussa, accepted Baptism in 1716, when he contracted smallpox after arriving in New France to bargain for peace. See the church register of Sainte Famille de Boucherville, 1 December 1716, for the baptism, in the home of Denis Bourgis (Bourgery), of three Sauvages renards, who had been in great peril of death, a record I found years ago.

first, a child of two years, given the name francois, son of joseph machimata, deceased, and marie, his wife;
second, given the name louis, chef des renards pemoussa, about 45 years old;
third, the widow of joseph machimata, named marie. (There is thus evidence that women or wives and children accompanied male ambassadors.)

All of them had made actes de foy, Acts of Faith, through the mediation of Maurice Ménard, interpreter, my ancestor, who signed the record as godfather. Joseph Machimata was buried in the cemetery of the church on 3 December, about 40 years old, deceased on the 1st of the month, mr. de belmont having ordered that he be buried in holy ground.

After a defeat of the Fox by Louis de La Porte, sieur de Louvigny, in 1716, Maurice Ménard had accompanied the ambassadors from the Fox Nation to New France, where three of the six died of smallpox, only one of them able to return to his country the following year.[1] Another Fox, known as meachi, was baptized, also in the home of Denis Bourgis, on 5 December, about 30 years old, and given the name Marien, with Sr. Marien Taillandier (whom I know to be a surgeon) and Maurice Ménard, interprète, as godparents. Father Saladin carefully noted that all precautions had been taken to verify that this Indian desired Baptism, as had been the case for the three Fox he had baptized earlier. (It is also important to affirm that it was not only Indians who died from the scourge of smallpox. Second and third generation French-Canadians had no immunity. Hundreds and thousands died during outbreaks of this disease both in the mother colony and in the hinterlands.)

Louis Pemoussa died 6 December 1716 and was buried in the cemetery of the church of Sainte Famille at Boucherville . On the 17th of December, yet another sauvage renard was baptized at the home of Denis Bourgis, Echeaougan, given the name Simon, about 45, again with Maurice Ménard as godfather. Simon Echeaougan died and was buried on 22 December. (All citations from FHL #1288825, à Sainte-Famille de Boucherville, 1668-1717.)

Maurice Ménard returned in 1717 to Fox territory with a survivor of the six original ambassadors, whose eye had been lost to the disease, to again mediate peace, la paix, in the pays d'en haut.[2]

Maurice Ménard, who was then a sergeant, survived to die in his own country on 9 May 1741, burial 10 May, at Chambly, age 76, said to be 86, after more than fifty years of devoted service and many thousands of miles of voyaging the rivers and lakes of the North American continent as an interpreter and mediator for the French and for the Indian Nations. The record says tous les habitants ont été temoins, all the inhabitants (of Chambly ) were present as witnesses at his burial.

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[1] Denis Bourgery had been engagé Ouest, hired to travel to the pays d’en haut, specifically to Fort Pontchartrain , Detroit , 10 July 1703 and 30 May 1705 (photocopies). His brother Leger worked as a voyageur from 3 September 1694 to 1 July 1717, and his brother Jean Louis married, 6 August 1717, at Detroit , Anne Alimacoua (Nicolas & Marguerite Potish [sic]) de la nation Quescacan. (Jetté) The surviving record at Ste-Anne de Detroit records Marguerite as Marguerite Alimacoua, an algonquine de nation. (Photocopy) Jean Baptiste Bissot de Vincennes, enseigne, commandant pour le roi aux miamis, was recorded at Fort Pontchartrain in 1717 as godfather on 9 July for Anne, appartenant à Jacques philiz et à charlotte Savaria ses pere et meres. (Photocopy)
A 1733 October 14 letter from Beauharnois and Hocquart to the minister in France says there were close to 2000 deaths in the colony from “la petite vérole, ” smallpox. Work had to be suspended. C11A, Volume 59, fol. 163-206, excerpt from ArchiviaNet. My examination of the registers for Montréal and Québec City for 1733 shows that almost all of the deaths recorded are French-Canadians, page after page, often of young children. The outbreak prevented the domiciled Indians from trading with the English.
See Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online for Pemoussa; Louis de La Porte, sieur de Louvigny; and Constant Le Marchand, sieur de Lignery, as well as Jean-Baptiste Bissot de Vincennes and his son François-Marie Bissot de Vincennes, the founder of Vincennes, Indiana.

[2] See Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. xvi, pp. 346 + and an account of the later visits by Fox chefs to the mother colony, pp. 377 + for the Renards sending “Five of their [the Renards’] principal chiefs, accompanied by some others of their people, who arrived at Montreal on July 20th last, under the conduct of Maurice Mesnard and Pierre Reaume, Interpreters.” 1718: Conference of Western Indians with Governor Vaudreuil, at Montreal , dated Oct. 30, 1718.