(by Jill Edwards and
a note to explain that we are third cousins who met online
researching Xavier Vautrin. We both descend from his
daughter Amelie Vautrin; Jill descends from her first
marriage and Laurel from her second marriage. We met in
person for the first time in Victoria in October 2000 to do
some family research together. We decided to combine
our updated entries.)
He was born
Francois Xavier Vautrin on May 10, 1815, in the Parish of St.
Philippe, in Quebec. His
parents were Pierre Vautrin dit Bienvenue and Agathe Baudin
(or Baubin). His
paternal grandfather was Charles Vautrin dit Bienvenue who
was born in Lorraine, France and came over to New France with
the Royal Rousillon Regiment in the 1750s.
His mother, Agathe, was part Miami
Indian from the Detroit River Region. We have been in
contact with descendants of several of Xavier's siblings and
at least one cousin, who have generously shared genealogy
records, in one case dating back 14 generations from our own.
recruited from the Parish of St. Edouard, Quebec and entered
the HBC service in 1834, at about the same time as his
brother Jean Baptiste Vautrin (born February 1, 1813.)
Xavier and Jean Baptiste had at least nine siblings.
As far as we know, these two brothers
were the only family members who joined the Company.
According to a
descendant of Jean Baptiste who searched through hundreds of
hours of microfilm from the HBC archives, the brothers
arrived at Fort Vancouver in 1834. Per records received
from Bruce Watson, Xavier worked at Fort Vancouver as a
middleman until 1835 at which time he was assigned to the
Columbia Department. In 1837 he was sent to Fort
Langley where he worked for the next fifteen years. In
1852 he went to Victoria where he joined his brother.
Jean Baptiste had
gone from Fort Vancouver to New Caledonia and worked at
various locations over the years until 1851 when he was
assigned to Fort Victoria. Both brothers retired from
the HBC around 1852 though they periodically carried on
transactions with the company for some time after that.
While at Fort
Langley Xavier took up, in the custom of the country, with a
Quantlen woman. The
earliest record we've found so far is reflected above,
wherein a daughter Florence (about 3) was baptized by Modeste
Demers on September 4, 1841. She is described as the
illegitimate daughter of Francis Vautrin and Emilie, Kwoithe
(probably a variation of Kwantlen/Quantlen). However,
when he moved with his family to Victoria and had his
relationship formalized in 1852 (apparently in a double
wedding with his brother Jean Baptiste and his Songhee bride
Elizabeth), his wife was referred to as Marie Quantlen.
Together they acknowledged their children Emilie, age 11
years, Helene, age 6 years, and Catherine, age 3 years.
We don't know if
Florence (about 14 by then) had married or possibly
died. Nor do we know what happened to "Emilie,
Kwoithe." Since the next eldest daughter also
bears the same name Emilie (or Amelie), perhaps it is
possible that "Emilie, Kwoithe" and Marie were the
same woman, or were related. Another daughter, Rosalie,
was born to Xavier and Marie after their move to Victoria in
1852, but she only lived 2 years. They
also had a son Francois Xavier who may have died in 1857.
Marie's daughters Helene and Catherine were both early pupils
of the Sisters of St. Ann's at their two room convent school
in Victoria. They enrolled there in November of 1858,
about six months after the Sisters started the school.
We have found
later records pertaining to Helene/Ellen Vautrin. She
married Moise Plamondon, a son of Simon Plamondon, another
HBC employee who had worked at Fort Langley. She died
and was buried in Victoria in October 1864 at eighteen years
As yet, we don't know what happened to
brothers left active service of the HBC, they settled on land
in the Mill Bay area of southern Vancouver Island that they
had apparently been visiting since the late 1830s according
to oral history. In various local histories they are
credited with being "the first white men" to settle
in the Cowichan Valley. They eventually pre-empted the
properties after the surveying had taken place.
The south side of Xavier's 100 acres
went approximately along what is today Kilmalu Road across
the road from the St. Francis Xavier Church that still stands
and the Island Highway now cuts across the west side.
Jean Baptiste pre-empted a 100 acres that was southwest of
Xavier's and hence the story is that they "settled next
door to each other" and took up farming. Both
brothers also worked for some time at a nearby mill.
We don't know for
sure the fate of Francois Xavier Vautrin though we believe he
died on the Island. We have read that local oral
history says his remains are in a grave near the waterfront
north of Mill Bay. There is a road near Section 6,
Range 9 (near his pre-empted land) that is named Voutrait,
one of the many variant spellings of the name. It is
possible he rests near there.
Vautrin's wife Elizabeth of the Songhees died in 1857.
In 1860 he married Marie Anne Brule, the widow of Joseph
Brule. In the late 1880s it appears that Jean Baptiste
and Marie Anne moved to the Grande Ronde area of Oregon, near
where Marie Anne was from. Church records indicate
that a man named Jean Baptiste Vautrin died there on February
We do have quite a bit
of information on Jean Baptiste Vautrin and are in contact
with direct descendants of his who have significantly
more. Should any of his other descendants read this, we
would be happy to direct you toward same.
surviving daughter we know about was Amelie who became our
great great grandmother. She was born in 1840 or 1841
at Fort Langley. She was married first to Pierre Legace
and we believe had four children with him prior to his death
in 1865. We know for sure that two of their daughters
survived infancy and grew up to marry and have children of
their own. Amelie's second marriage was to Samuel
Wesley Handy, with whom she had at least six more children.
Amelie spoke only
French and Sam Handy apparently spoke mostly French at home
also. Accordingly their children knew little English so
had to learn it at school. Amelie taught at least one
of her grandchildren, Mary Rivers, some French swear words
that she would get in trouble for repeating to her mother at
died on December 7, 1891 and was the first person buried at
St. Francis Xavier Church in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.
(by Jill Edwards)
husband was Pierre Legace who was born in 1840 at Fort
Simpson, today's Port Simpson, BC. His mother was a
Tshimsian Indian named Lisette.
His father, also
named Pierre Legace, was the son of Emme, a Native woman (Nez
Perce, Spokane or Flathead depending upon the source) and
"a wandering French Canadian fur trapper" who
according to oral tradition was also named Pierre
Legace. His father's sister, Josette Legace, married
John Work, a well-known HBC employee who eventually became a
The middle Pierre
Legace was himself an HBC employee from 1832 to 1855.
His longest stint in one place was at Fort Simpson from 1837
to 1853. From there he went to Fort Nisqually where his sons
Pierre and Charles joined him and also worked.
Pierre Legace married Amelie Vautrin in the late 1850s in
Victoria. Both Pierres (Peters), Amelie (Mile), and Charles
are included on the 1860 census of Pierce County, Washington
Territory. Also included on that census were Amelie and
the younger Pierre's children: Rosalie, aged 2, and Susan,
aged 2 months. Amelie and Pierre later had two more
children, a daughter Amelia Ellen born in 1864 in Moodyville
(in today's British Columbia) and a son whose name we don't
We don't know
what happened to their oldest daughter Rosalie Legace though
it would appear that she did not survive childhood.
daughter Susan (Susette) Legace, born in 1859 at Steilacoom
in Washington Territory, grew up and married John Greig on
August 11, 1878. John's parents were John Greig, Sr.
and Margaret Goudie. Both
the elder John Greig and Margaret's father were HBC
children of Susette and John Greig were Rosalie, Amelia
(Toosey), Catherine, Robert, Emilia, Mary Ellen (Min), John,
Thomas, Clarence, Ernest, and George.
daughter Amelia Ellen Legace grew up and married William
Albert Rivers on April 21, 1884. William Rivers was
born in 1860 in Oswestry, Shropshire, England.
He came out to Vancouver Island when he
was about fifteen, in the company of his older brother Henry.
William and Amelia homesteaded near
Shawnigan Lake, a few miles west from Xavier's pre-empted
land. Their property included the land which is today
William Rivers Community Park. They had eight children,
the eldest being Mary Amelia Rivers (called "Mim"
or "Mimmie") who was my maternal grandmother.
Their other children were Gertrude, Elizabeth (Helen),
William, Ethel, Mabel, Charles and Albert.
We believe that
the younger Pierre Legace drowned in the Fraser River, along
with his young son, in about 1865. His widow, Amelie
Vautrin Legace, later remarried as Laurel describes below.
If our sources are
correct, descendants of this line can count members of at
least four different First Nations groups among their
ancestors and in some cases more. This is a wonderful
forum for capturing and sharing these particular facets of
our family histories before they are lost to time. I
would be happy to hear from other descendants to share
Vautrin -- second
(by Laurel Katernick)
After the death
of her first husband, Amelie Vautrin married Samuel Wesley
Handy on January-15-1866 in New Westminster, B.C.,
Canada. Amelie entered into this marriage with two
children from her first marriage to Pierre LeGace, their
daughters Susette and Amelia. We
are somewhat curious as to what Amelie was doing in New
Westminster at the time of her second marriage.
Her father and Uncle were both residing
on Vancouver Island with their families.
At the time of the marriage Sam was in
New Westminster working on a lightship at the mouth of the
Handy was from Parsonstown, Kings County, Ireland.
Recent research has uncovered this was
possibly Sams second marriage also.
Sam was in California with his father
from approximately 1853-1858. It
should be noted Sams father's name is also Samuel
Wesley Handy. Likewise
Sam also had a son named Samuel Wesley Handy.
As mentioned above, recent research has
hinted at the possibility that Amelie was not Samuel Wesley
Handys biological mother. His
death registration lists place of birth as California in
approximately 1856. This
would have been about ten years prior to Sam and Amelies
marriage date. I
have uncovered no solid evidence to confirm the above.
In 1873 Sam took
a liking to the Cobble Hill and Mill Bay area on Vancouver
Island, B.C, Canada. There
he bought 160 acres and settled with Amelie.
This property was located a few miles
east of Amelie's father's property.
It bordered the waterfront in Mill Bay
and is believed to have been adjacent to Handy Road.
Together they raised 8 children,
Susette, Amelia, Samuel, Mary, Ellen, Rebekah, Walter and
Florence. There are also listed in records two other
children; Henry born in 1874 and Susan born in 1876.
I have not been able to confirm these
last two children with any backup documentation.
Jill has listed whom Susette and Amelia
married. Now to deal with the others.
Sarah Emily Bullock in 1903. This
was Sarahs second marriage as she was left a widow upon
the death of her first husband. Sarah
entered into this marriage with one child, a son, named Dave
is Sarahs maiden name and her family was also from
Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada. The
couple settled in Grand Forks, B.C., Canada and spent their
lives there. It
is unknown whether or not Sam and Sarah had any children of
Handy married Francois Xavier LaFortune in 1887.
They were the first couple to be married
in St. Francis Xavier Church in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.
Together this couple raised 6 children.
Mary and Francois first 2 sons
were born in Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada.
Sometime between 1891 and 1895 they
family moved to Beaver Hills, NWT which is now Alberta.
Once in Alberta the couple had 4 more
children, 3 boys and one girl. The
third child born to them is my maternal grandfather Albert
Joseph LaFortune. Mary
died in Alberta in 1899 upon the birth of her last child.
married James Dykes in 1902 in Vancouver where they both
resided until their deaths in the 1970s.
Ellen Handy lived close to where I grew
up in Vancouver and my mother and I used to visit her for
afternoon tea. We
do not to date have much information on this family other
than 2 daughters.
Handy married Hank Robertson in 1893.
Together they raised 6 children, 2 sons
and 4 daughters. This
family resided at Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, B.C.,
indicate that at some point Rebekah remarried to another man
named Werner Carlson. Records indicate that Hank
Robertson was killed in a logging accident. We are not
aware of any children born of the marriage to Werner Carlson.
My mother as a young girl spent summers
out at Shawnigan Lake with her Aunt Bek and
passed away in 1961 in Victoria.
Handy was born in 1879. We
have not been able to confirm his place of birth although we
do believe it to be on Vancouver Island.
Nothing is known about Walters
life other than he died in Prince George, B.C., Canada in
Handy was born in 1882 in Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island,
B.C., Canada. She
was twice married, first to man with the last name Cox and
second to a man named Frank Porter.
Little is know about Florences
life other than my maternal grandfather came across her once
in Tacoma. No
record of the birth of any children born to her in B.C. has
been discovered yet nor any death registration.
We do have
extensive information on most of the above mentioned
individuals. This includes ancestors as well as
descendants for the most part. Should any of the surnames be
related to research you are conducting please be sure to
check out our website at http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/k/a/t/Laurel-Katernick/index.html
We wish to
express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Jean
Barman, Bruce Watson and our newly found cousins who have
been most generous in sharing information with us. We
also must extend our thanks to the kind people at the Sooke
Region Museum, the Saanich Pioneer Museum, and the St.
Francis Xavier Church in Mill Bay. (Note: Any errors in
the narrative are ours, and we would appreciate having them
pointed out to us.)