The Great Southwest

The Great Southwest is the land of prairies, oak savannah, and the Mushrat French, including what we beleive to be a relative Pierre Doucet on the Raisin River in Michigan. This history is not well known but absolutely fascinating. But I’m no expert so before we go on a time travel voyage though the land of the Mushrat French, I invite you to explore a few links and I will sprinkle more through the article:

18130000 Two Ottawa Chiefs Amherstburg

A really good article:

“Muskrat French”: Origins of a Culture, a Language, and a People

by James LaForest


18330213 Godfroy Beaugraud claim

And a book about the Mushrat French from 1935:

18700000 Frances Anne Hopkins. Encampment of Voyageurs.

19070302 CDNCOUR V 1 No 14 muskrat trap2

“Muskrat Trapper'”The Canadian Courier, Vol. 1, No. 14, March 2, 1907

And an article about by Dean Cousino from the Monroe Evening News:


And another thoughtful and well researched article:


by Dennis M. Au

Do a Google search and you can download the PDF for free!

Beaver family scene.jpg

1822, Michigan Territory. Map James Finlayson. A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas

1822, Michigan Territory. Map James Finlayson. A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas

18700000 William G. R. Hind, Duck Shooting

William G. R. Hind, Duck Shooting, ca. 1870

Raisin River.jpg

Enter a captionMonroe: The Early Years  By Craig Hutchison, Kimberly A. Hutchison, p. 17 Photo Pierre Navarre, unknown, 1867. Pierre Navarre who married Angelique Kisnawkwe (afternoon woman) and father to all the Navarre Potawatomi line.



Francois Godfroy by George Winter. François Godfroy 1788-1840) was born near Kiihkayonk, now Fort Wayne, Indiana. He became a chief of the Miami and a trader. His many children and grandchildren married among all the Miami kinship groups to the extent that over one-fourth of the current Indiana Miami tribe can claim descendency from him.


Map of Detroit 1764

Map of Detroit, 1764Bellin, Charles-Nicholas. La rivière du Détroit depuis le lac Sainte-Claire jusqu’au lac Érié, 1764 Reference Code: C 78, AO 6699 Archives of Ontario

Land deed Godefroy

Land deed, Pottawatomi Nation to Jacques Godefroy, 1776 Hiram Walker Museum Collection Reference Code: F 378, 20-100 Archives of Ontario


Smith, T. Township plan, Sandwich West, 1794 Township plans collection Reference Code: C 277-1-368-0-1, AO 6700 Archives of Ontario

From Fur Trading on the Detroit River

by Kathy Warnes

Pierre LeBlanc, Fur Trader

Individual fur traders like Pierre LeBlanc were as instrumental as Native Americans in establishing fur trading regions and without premeditation, transforming the cultures of both French and Indian worlds. Leblanc, who would later settle in Ecorse, a small settlement about eight miles from Detroit, was one of the first French men to travel to the area, arriving in 1790 for the Hudson Bay Company.

Fur trading comprised most of the business in this western country at this time and created Native American, French, and British capitalists. Hunting fur bearing animals like beaver and muskrat, preparing their furs for market and transporting them to Montreal provided much of the impetus for exploration and settlement along the Detroit and Ecorse Rivers.

Trade was carried on between Montreal and the upper country by canoes and bateaux. Canoes loaded at Montreal were brought to Detroit either over the Ottawa River coming down through Georgian Bay or through the Niagara route over Lakes Ontario and Erie. The Niagara Route was easier because it had one portage at Niagara Falls while the Ottawa route had at least 30 portages.

Pierre LeBlanc Blends Cultures

Since French and other white women were scarce in this frontier settlement, Pierre married a Fox Indian woman and established a homestead farm on what is now West Jefferson Avenue near the Detroit River. When a French trapper took an Indian wife, his marriage helped him survive Native American attacks or other trouble with the warriors still numerous in the Downriver area. The LeBlancs established themselves as sturdy farmers and trappers, trading with the Indians and maintaining a good relationship with them.

Pierre and his Indian wife had a son whom they named Pierre, who was born in 1820 in a log house on the old family farm. This log house served as a place of worship for the early Catholics and for many years Mass was said within its rustic walls. Early in his life, the second Pierre revealed his sturdy French stock and Indian blood. He was a constable when he was only twenty years old and for many years he was a highway commissioner, laying out many of the first roads in the southeastern part of Michigan.

Pierre Le Blanc Pays his Taxes

In 1850, the LeBlancs built a new house to replace the old log cabin and Pierre’s son, Frank Xavier LeBlanc, was born in that house. Through his years of growing up on the LeBlanc farm near the Detroit River, Frank X. collected many souvenirs of his family’s early days in Ecorse and Downriver.

Peter Godfroy, a merchant, survived the Indian massacre at Frenchtown in Monroe in which the entire garrison and all the settlers within the fort except him were tomahawked. He gave Frank X. LeBlanc’s grandfather Pierre a receipt for goods that he had purchased and although yellowed and faded it was still legible. Another of his valuable possessions was a tax statement that the sheriff of Wayne County had sent Pierre LeBlanc in July 1824. The statement requested that LeBlanc pay the $2.03 he owed in taxes!

Individual fur traders like Pierre LeBlanc brought about a blending or exchanging of Native American and white culture and the transformation of both.


Burton, C.M., Cadillac’s Village or “Detroit Under Cadillac,” with a List of Property Owners and a History of the Settlement,” 1701 to 1710, Detroit, 1896
LaForest, Thomas and Saintonge, Jacques, Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Palm Harbor, Florida, 1993.
Morgan, Lewis Henry, The League of the Iroquois, North Dighton, Massachusetts: J.G. Press, 1995
Murphy, Lucy Eldersveld, A Gathering of Rivers: Indians, Metis, and Mining in the Western Great Lakes, 1737-1832. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000
Smith-Sleeper, Susan, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounters in the Western Great Lakes, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
White, Richard, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great lakes Region, 1650-1815, Cambridge University Press, 1997
“Catholic Masses Said in Log Cabin of LeBlanc,” Ecorse Advertiser, June 6, 1950
“An Old Time Trip with the Voyageurs: An Interesting Account of Transporation of Furs from the Northwest by Way of the Ottawa River One Hundred Years Ago,” Dr. Charles Codding, Duluth Evening Herald, April 7, 1900.

See also:


18210625 John J. Bigsby. Map of St. Clair River Digitally enhanced.

Digitally enhanced to make it easier to see.

18510730 Green Bay like Detroit



Spearing Muskrats, 1853, Seth Eastman

Spearing Muskrats, 1853, Seth Eastman

18951106 Mushrat French3

Burlington Hawkeye, Nov. 6, 1895

18951106 Mushrat French4

18951106 Mushrat French5

18951106 Mushrat French6

Go Feesh Last Week

18951106 Mushrat French7

18900000 O’Grady. Duck shoot, St. Clair River, Wallaceburg

18790509 GL Mushrat smugglers

18950125 Canadian Smugglers

Canadian Smugglers

18240907 Alexander Cavalie Mercer Mouth of the Nottawasaga River

18960206 Mushrat French

Muskrat Recipe

18990518 Muskrat Hunters1

18990518 Muskrat Hunters218990518 Muskrat Hunters3

18990518 Muskrat Hunters4

18990518 Muskrat Hunters5

18990518 Muskrat Hunters7


18290413  Point Edward