From Franklin County, NY to
Greenbush Twp, Mille Lacs County, MN
Note: Are you interested in connecting with other descendants of Peter Robideau & Julia Jesmer?  We're talking about a reunion in Princeton for Summer 2010. 
Check out this reunion page and leave an email to let us know you're interested.   
 
They travelled over 1200 miles to get here.  
Did they randomly choose Mille Lacs county or did they have some connection to the area?  What prompted them to leave Franklin County? 
Whyever they came, over 250 people followed this journey between 1860 and 1880.  The community of Greenbush became home for so many of these French-Canadians from up-state NY that the people from the town of Princeton called the area around Greenbush "The French Settlement". 

The French-speaking community in Greenbush- most from Franklin Co, NY and St Regis, Huntingdon Co, Quebec - created a cemetery then a church for community use.  The land was donated by Joseph Jesmer, Julia Jesmer's brother.  The oldest headstone in the Greenbush Catholic Cemetery appears to be from 1872, the son of Alexander DeShaw .  The church was closed soon after St Edwards RC in Princeton was established and the church burnt down in the 1950s.  All that is left of this small parish is the Greenbush Catholic Cemetery. Unfortunately, the Church and cemetery records were lost when the old church was closed and the parishoners were transferred over to St Edwards.
Another Mille Lacs researcher and I have been working on recreating the records.  Here are my records of folks buried in the
Greenbush Catholic Cemetery

Many of these early families migrated from the Hogansburg area, Franklin County, NY in the mid 1860s, although there was great variation in the spelling of the surnames.  Here are a few: • Robideau, Robidou, Robideaux, Robidoux, Rabideau, Rubido • Blair, Belair; • Mailhot, Mallotte, Mallett • DesChamps, DeShaw, Shaw; • Grow, Gros, LeGros, Garrow, Garreau;  • Jasmin, Jesmer .  You can find them all at the
Franklin, NY rootsweb site and the Franklin, NY usgennet site 

A MYSTERY
Olive (Robideau) Anderson was one of the longest lived residents of the Princeton area.  She was one of 16 children of Nels Robideau and Anna Grow.  Nels was one of 14 children of Peter Robideau & Julia Jesmer, and brother to my Ggrandmother, Marguerite (Robideau) Mercier.  Peter and Julia were my GGgrandparents.  
Olive died in 2003, at the age of 92. She died just weeks before I made my first journey to Princeton. In 2002 she was interviewed by the Princeton Union-Eagle, and here are some interesting excerpts:
"She became familiar with the Indian reservation in Mille Lacs County at an early age, Olive recalling at her home last Friday that she had made many trips to the reservation as a girl with her father. "He could talk Indian and he could talk French," Olive remembers. "My grandmother, my dad's mother, was 100 percent Chippewa Indian."
Olive states that Julia (Jesmer) Robideau was Native American, and could speak Chippewa/Ojibwa. 
Julia's family tree is a well-researched French-Canadian family... but I believe Olive.  Now I just have to figure out how this works.
Theory 1: Julia Jesmer was the daughter of Joseph Jasmin and Julia Plamondon.  Joseph and Julia had 9 children.  8 baptismal records have been found.  Julia Jesmer's baptismal record has yet to be unearthed.  The baptismal records were all at the St. Regis Catholic Church.  The St. Regis Church was the local church, a mission church for the Akwesasne Mohawk people on the St. Regis reservation.  Could Julia be a child of the Akwesasne Mohawk or Metis, adopted into a French-Canadian family, who then taught her son Nels to speak Mohawk, and her granddaughter Olive - raised in Mille Lacs near the Ojibwe peoples - accidentally merged these two peoples ?
Theory 2:  Living amongst the Akwesasne Mohawk, Julia Jesmer must have surely picked up some of the language.  Did Julia teach Mohawk to Nels, and was he able to communicate to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa with this language?  This is the least likely theory.  Notes from the internet: 
"Ojibwa is an Algonquian language, while Mohawk is an Iroquoian language.  These languages are very different. (source)" , also 

Theory 3 & beyond: Are there other connections between Franklin County, NY & the Ojibwe people via the fur trade?  Julia's father was Ignace Plamondon.  There was another Ignace Plamondon in Franklin County, approximately the same age as Julia's father, and they were surely related.  He is reported to have been born in Michigan of an "Indian" mother, then moved east to Franklin County with his fur trader father.  At the time he was born Ojibwe was a predominant people in Michigan.  
"Where do the Chippewas (Ojibwa) live?   The Chippewas are one of the largest American Indian groups in North America. There are nearly 150 different bands of Chippewa Indians living throughout their original home land in the northern United States (especially Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan)* ".    
Did this other Ignace bring the language back to Franklin County?  
OR
Alexander DeShaw (DesChamps) states in "The History of the Upper Mississippi Valley (1881, Oneil)" that his grandfather and father had been fur traders "in this area".  They would have surely known Ojibwe peoples.  Did they learn the language and bring it back to New York?  

Finally, If the language was brought to New York, what would have motivated Julia (Jesmer) Robideau to learn it?  

I believe Olive when she states that her father communicated readily with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa AND that she believed that her grandmother was Native American.  The question is, did Nels learn to speak Ojibwa here?  Or did he learn it at his mother's knee?  
 The Robideau family, picture dated probably 1902.  


A close up of the family matriarch, 
Julia (Jesmer) Robideau (1836-1926).    
















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