Legends of the Industry

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Foundations in the Fur Trade - The La Framboise Story



It will be 200 hundred years in the fall of 2017 since Joseph LaFramboise established upon South Dakota soil, the first permanent settlement at what would become Fort Pierre. That’s two years before Fort Snelling was built in Minnesota.

Joseph LaFramboise,
came of a notable Canadian French family of noble birth named Fafard. Early in their Canadian residence they were nicknamed Framboise (Raspberry) and ultimately adopted this nickname as their own. The original name has been almost forgotten but more on the family later.

It must be noted that the establishment of this humble log and brush trading house on the south side of the Bad River was but a continuation of the persistence of human settlement of the Fort Pierre area in the annals of the upper Missouri River and South Dakota history.

For here in Fort Pierre was the location of the 1743 Verendrye Expedition’s planting of the Lead plate, which would claim the great Northwest for France. It was in the Fort Pierre area that the most important center of the Ree (Arikara) Nation was maintained for a long period, perhaps extending into centuries.

Joseph LaFramboise, hailed from one of the earliest families to settle in Canada. Bertrand Fafard dit LaFrambose, who is credited with founding the Canadian branch of the Fafard family, was born in France in about 1620. His ancestry has been traced back to the 1400s in France. Bertrand was a merchant in St.Maurice, Quebec, Canada. He died there on November 3, 1660.

The LaFramboise
family entered the fur trade as part of the family’s merchant business. Joseph Francis LaFramboise born April 16, 1765 was the Father of our local founder. He dealt as a voyageur and trader mostly with the Indians in upper Michigan and Ohio. He was a devout Catholic and prayed on his knees daily. That, in fact is how he died.

Joseph Francis LaFramboise was shot and killed by a stealthy enemy as he was saying his prayers one evening in his hunting cabin near Grand Haven Michigan.

His widow Marguerite Magdelaine was the daughter of Jean Baptiste Marcotte, a Mackinaw fur-trader., and a woman of the Ottawa Tribe from what is now Indiana (courtesoreilles)

After the death of her husband, Madame La Framboise gathered up her little flock of children and returned to Mackinaw in upper Michigan. She soon became one of the most successful fur traders in the region.

The woman taught herself to read and write in French and became a fairly proficient scholar before she died. Her connections to French Canadian trappers, the Indians, as well as the white population meant she was widely known and respected. Her appointment as agent of the American Fur Company, which was funded and backed by John Jacob Astor of New York, led to wealth.

Madame LaFramboise saw to it that her children received what formal schooling existed and became proficient in English, French , as well as local Indian dialects.

Her daughter: Josette, born in 1795 married in the summer of 1817 one Col Benjamin Kendrick. Pierce.

Col Pierce was the Brother of later President Franklin Pierce. Josette died from complications from childbirth on Nov. 24, 1820, at the age of 25. The baby boy, Langdon, died a few days later, Col. Pierce would marry twice more, with each wife dying very young. His only surviving child with Josette LaFramoise; Harriet lived for many years at Mackinaw Island, Mich. There is, in fact, a LaFramboise family plot on the island.

Joseph II, the subject of our tale, entered the employ of the American Fur Company and was sent to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to assist Joseph Rollette, one of the partners of the American Fur Co.

In the autumn of 1817, he was sent to the Missouri to trade with the Teton Sioux . He built his fur trading house at the mouth of the Bad River, thus establishing the first permanent settlement in what is now known as South Dakota. He traded at this location for five years.

The exact location of the fur trade house is not now known, though it was probably in the considerable grove of timber on the south side of the Bad River.

Joseph LeCont came to the mouth of the Bad River and built a post for trade in opposition to LaFramboise in 1819 but the story of his enterprise has chiefly been lost.

When the Columbia Fur Company came to the Missouri River country in 1822 and built Fort Tecumseh, it was not far from the LaFramoise establishment. Joseph retired from the Missouri River location and went over to Flandreau where he built his second Dakota establishment.

The Columbia Fur Company continued trade at Fort Tecumseh until 1828 when it sold out to the American Fur Co. or rather was absorbed by it, or the partners and employees of the Columbia continued to control the Upper Missouri Outfit of the American Company. The trade continued at Tecumseh until 1832 when the river’s encroachments upon that post rendered the site untenable. Then Fort Pierre Choteau was built upon safer ground nearby and the establishment moved there.

Joseph La Framboise continued in the fur trade on the Couteau de Prairie in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota for many years. He fortified himself with his patrons by marrying in the Indian Way, successively and successfully four of the daughters of old chief Walking Day.

Later in life he settled near Fort Ridgely on the Minnesota River and married Jane Dickson, daughter of the notable Major Robert Dickson (another prominent character of the fur trade era). LaFramboise died at Fort Ridgley in 1856. He left a number of children, the best known of whom was Joseph LaFramboise III a son from his union with one of one of the Walking Day girls, who lived to an old age and died in the early 20th century near Veblen in Marshall County.

Members of the LaFramboise family are widely scattered today. However, they continued to contribute to the development of the upper plains as interpreters and guides, teachers and fur traders well into the later years of the l9th century. Today branches exist in Manitoba,Canada, Minnesota, as well as Rapid City

Source: Capital Journal


Fur Industry News - World Wide
by RB Media Group
Posted: September 29, 2016