Paschal Pensoneau (far right) (2nd cousin 5x removed)
Fur-trapper, trader, and interpreter with the Kickapoo Indians
From: "HISTORY OF ATCHISON COUNTY KANSAS," by sheffield Ingalls, Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kansas, 1916
The first permanent white settler of what is now Atchison county, Kansas was a Frenchman Paschal Pensoneau (Pinsonneau), who, about 1839, married a Kickapoo Indian woman and about 1844 settled on the bank of Stranger creek, near the present site of Potter, where he established a trading-house and opened the first farm in Atchison county on land which had been allotted him by the Government for services in the Black Hawk and Mexican wars.
Pensoneau had long lived among the Kickapoo Indians, following them in their migrations from Illinois to Missouri and Kansas, generally pursuing the vocation of trader and interpreter.
1854 map Eastern Kansas
As early as 1833 or 1834 he was established on the Missouri river at the old Kickapoo town, later removing to Stranger creek, as aforementioned. He became a very prominent and influential man among the Kickapoos. He long held the position of Government interpreter for that tribe.
After the treaty of 1854, diminishing the Kickapoo reserve, Pensoneau moved to the new lands assigned the tribe along the Grasshopper river, where he lived for many years.
About 1875 he settled among a band of Kickapoo Indians, near Shawnee, Indian Territory, where he died some years later.
He was born at Cahokia, Ill., April 17, 1796, his parents having been among the emigrants from Canada to the early French settlements of Illinois.
Paschal Pensoneau and the fur trade
Paschal worked as a fur trader and translator
The first of the Pensoneau brothers to settle in Cahokia was Louison, who arrived in U.S. territory in 1784. He was a fur trader among the Kickapoo, Potawatomie and Miami Indians in Indiana and Illinois. In a memoir dictated in 1883, his son Paschal said, “My father was head-boss for the American Fur Company,” owned by Jacob Astor, on the Wabash and Vermillion rivers. For a time, Louison kept a second home in Peoria, Illinois.
Louison married Louise “Lizette” LeCompte, daughter of “Old Mme. LeCompte,” who lived to 109 years of age. She was half Potawatomie, spoke several Indian languages, and was legendary as a peacemaker. When she heard of impending attacks against the town of Cahokia in its early days, she would walk into the woods on her own to parley. Several days later, she would return with a party of Indians who had decided not to attack but to accept the gifts and hospitality the townspeople were only too happy to offer to avoid a battle. Often, the feasting continued for days. Louison and Lizette had ten children, and one followed in both his father’s and grandmother’s footsteps. Paschal, born in 1795, lived largely among the Kickapoo Indians from the time he was thirteen years old.
“I went to Terre Haute, where there was a trading post. My father gave me a set of tools so that I could repair the Indian guns, and I followed that business a great deal,” he said in his memoir recorded by the Kansas State Historical Society.
French fur-trading families often exchanged young men with Indian families, so the boys would grow up familiar with each other’s society, culture and language. The French youth who lived among the Indians were called coureurs des bois, or runners of the woods.
By the 1830s, Paschal worked for Stephen Phelps, one of two main traders with Black Hawk’s band of Sac and Fox Indians. When the Illinois militia and then the U.S. Army were called up to oust Black Hawk and his followers from Illinois in the summer 1832, Paschal enlisted in the militia. Black Hawk was defeated in the brief war, and his bands were forced to leave their traditional seasonal homes for the plains west of the Mississippi River. Phelps accompanied Black Hawk to Washington, D.C., for the treaty negotiations.
The U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Acts at about the same time. These events forced Indians to move west of the Mississippi River, and the Kickapoo—who had allied with the Americans—also had to leave their land in Illinois.
|A Kickapoo family|
Paschal stayed with the Kickapoo and traveled west. He married Shikina, the daughter of a chief, and went with a group of sixty-three families to live along the Missouri River above Fort Leavenworth. They stayed there for about five years before moving to Kansas, where Paschal is credited with being the first white settler of Atchison. The couple had a number of children, and they eventually settled on the Kickapoo reservation. Paschal gave the account of his life in 1883 as part of establishing land claims for his military service and for his wife’s and children’s rights to tribal lands.
Paschal continued to work as a trader and interpreter in Kansas, and he was the interpreter for the Kickapoo Treaty signed June 28, 1862. He also served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
Paschal returned once to Illinois, in the late 1870s, when he was about 80 years old, but by then his parents, brothers and sisters had all died. An account by John F. Snyder, a family friend, stated that Paschal’s marriage had never been accepted by his siblings, “who ranked socially among the highest class of citizens here ... and if they did not disown him outright, they called ‘off’ and never mentioned his name and really did not know where he was or care to know.”
Paschal visited with Snyder’s brother, who “described him to me as a striking figure, of stately patriarchal appearance, and an intelligent, dignified and courteous gentleman. He was well dressed, and perfectly at his ease, with nothing in speech or manners to indicate his long association with Indians ... I feel quite sure that the Indian woman Paschal married was fully his peer in all that pertains to moral, social and domestic life.”
Pascahl and Shikina’s descendants have been active in Indian affairs and leadership positions over generations, and family members maintain websites with historical documents and photos. Especially helpful are the sites that Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones and Donna Flood maintain at www.electricscotland.com
Alderfer, William K., Ed. The Blackhawk War, 1831-1832. Vol. 1, Illinois Volunteers, Ellen M. Whitney, Ed. Galvorro, Ill. Illinois State Library Collections of Illinois State Historical Society, 1970.
Armstrong, Perry A. Black Hawk War: with biographical sketches. Springfield, Ill.: H.W. Rorker, Printer and Binder, 1887.
Brink, McDonough & Co. History of St. Clair County, Illinois. Philidelphia: Corresponding Office Edwardsville, Ill., 1881.
Jackson, Donald, Ed., Black Hawk Autobiography. University of Illinois, 1955.
Jetté, René. Le Dictionnaire généalogique des Familles du Québec; des origines à 1730. Montréal: Presses de l’ Université de Montréal, 2003.
Pensoneau, Paschal, statement to George Remsberg, Manuscripts Department, Kansas State Historical Society, 1883. Online documents for Atchison County.
Snyder, John Francis, Adam W. Snyder and his Period in Illinois History 1817-1842.Virginia, Ill.: E. Needham. Second Edition, 1906.
His brother Laurent Pinsonneau (1807-1848), our 2nd cousin 5x removed, was also a Fur trader for the American Fur Company. He established a trading post to trade with the Kickapoo Nation of the State of Illinois from present-day Wisconsin State.
His trading post -- established about 1833 -- was located on the Missouri River, 4 miles from Fort Leavenworth, about 5 or 6 miles from the Kansas River source. Native Americans involved in trade included the Delaware, Kansa, Shawnee and Kickapoo nations.
LAURENT PENSINEAU’S TRADING POST
Source: “THE FRENCH PRESENCE IN KANSAS 1673-1854”
Under the supervision of François Gesseau Chouteau, Laurent Pensineau 1681 operated a trading post for the American Fur Company in northeast Kansas among the Kickapoo Indians.
Born in 1805, he was the son of Louison Pensineau and Lizette Le Compt, early settlers in the Illinois Territory, who were highly respected in their community. Louison’s ancestors had come from Normandy, France to settle in Fort La Prairie, across from Montreal, Canada. His mother, a native of Cahokia, was the daughter of a Frenchman and a half-breed woman (half French, half Pottawatomie). He must have been living among the Kickapoos in Missouri prior to the treaty of Castor Hill of February 13, 1833 and their arrival in Kansas, as he had a son, Louis, born in 1828, whose mother was probably a Kickapoo woman, named Nina.
On October 25, 1833, he was granted a license to trade with the Kickapoos.
On September 9, 1833, François Gesseau Chouteau wrote to Pierre Ménard, about the arrangements he was making for the opening of the trading post: Pinnsonneaux is here. . . . I made the necessary arrangements at his arrival here to go immediately to construct his trading post among the Kickapoo. But first of all, I went to advise the agent [Cummins] who told me he had to see the place to designate and make his report to Gen. [William] Clark. He promised me he would go to see the place in 2 or 3 days. But he fell very ill and he is not yet over it so you see how all these formalities slow us down.
On November 25, 1833, Chouteau wrote: The Kickapoo post is now established. As soon as I was able to obtain a location and a license for the agent, I took the measures in such a way that the post could be built in a short time. It is four miles from the fort, in a beautiful location, that is to say, above the garrison and in the sight of the Missouri.
His post was located at the mouth of Pensineau’s Creek, also known as Pensineau’s landing on the Missouri River.
The pen and ink sketch of the Kickapoo Mission, drawn by Father Peter Verhaegen, S.J., shows the Maison du marchand (Merchant’s house), on the right bank of the Missouri River near the Kickapoo Mission, It was a two-story building with a road leading from it to the mission.
Pensineau was closely associated with the Catholic Church. His name appears frequently on the baptismal records.
In November 1833, when Father Benedict Roux visited the Kickapoo reservation and celebrated mass in Pensineau’s home, the trader translated into French the message sent by Chief Kennekuk.
Laurent was instrumental in the establishment of the mission for the Kickapoos. Father Roux wrote to Bishop Rosati on March 11, 1834: “Mr. Pinsonneau tells me these good Indians are eager to have me go and baptize their children; they desire most eagerly to hear the counsels of the Black-robes and to embrace his religion.”
On June 1, 1836, Reverend Charles F. Van Quickenborne, S.J. and three lay brothers came to open the Catholic Mission near the Kickapoo reservation. Pensineau put his home at their disposal until the construction of the mission was completed in the following month of October.
Father Van Quickenborne recorded his impressions of his lodging: “Our accommodations are rather better than I had anticipated. Mr.Painsonneau [Pensineau, the one who keeps a store for the nation, has had the kindness to let us occupy one of his old cabins. It is 16 feet square made of rough logs and daubed with clay. Here we have our chapel, dormitory, refectory, etc. We had to sleep on the floor.”
It is not known how long Pensineau managed the American Fur Company trading post but he was still there in the summer of 1837 as Count Francesco Arese, an Italian nobleman from Milan who was ascending the Missouri River on the steamboat St. Peters, wrote in his Journal that a few hours after leaving Fort Leavenworth, “at a post of the American Fur Company [they] landed the boss of the trading post.” The “boss” was probably Laurent Pensineau.
On July 14, 1837 François Gesseau ordered the unloading of packs of furs in “Pensineau’s shed” to be picked at a later date by the steamboat St. Peters. Probably Pensineau had left by 1842 as there was a new trader among the Kickapoos.
Pascal Pensineau must have assisted his brother in the management of the trading post as his presence is noted between the years 1833 and 1838. The baptisms of two of his daughters were recorded in the Kickapoo Register of Baptisms,
Brigitte Amable on January 4, 1837 and Maria on October 30, 1838. Both of the girls’ mothers were Kickapoo women. Pascal must have later moved to the Pottawatomi Sugar Creek reservation as his marriage to a Pottawatomi woman was registered there on June 28, 1847, as well as the baptism of his three year old daughter, Rosalie.
Laurent Pensineau may have returned to Illinois where he was born as he married Elizabeth Hays there and later died at Point-ā la Pierre in Illinois on July 18, 1848.
1681 . Also known as Lawrence Pinsonneau, Pinsonneu, Painsonneau, Pensineaux, Pencenaux.
1682 . “The Indian Agent (Laurent Pinsineau) is a French Creole… General Clark took him under his protection and Messrs. Chouteau & Co. will procure him all the advantages and comforts which his new situation will require.” Graves-Garraghan-Towle, History of the Kickapoo Mission, 11. General William Clark was the governor of the Territory of Missouri from 1813 to 1820 and was afterwards Indian Affairs Superintendent.
1683 . Ibid., 257.
1684 . Barry, Beginning of the West, 248.
1685 . Marra, 119.
1686 . Ibid., 122.
1687 . Ibid., 253, 310, 408
1688 . Reproduced in Garraghan, Jesuits, between pp. 402 and 403, from the Archives of the Missouri Province, S.J., St. Louis.
1689 . Garraghan, Catholic Beginnings, 35-54; Jesuits, 1:388; Graves-Garraghan-Towle, History of the Kickapoo Mission, 3n3.
1690 . On March 3, 1834 Father Roux baptized Pensineau’s eight year old son, Louis at the “mouth of the Kansas” in a rented “chapel where Father Roux officiated until April 1835.
1691 . Garraghan, Catholic Beginnings, 3. See chapter 15.
1692 . Barry, Beginning of the West, 309-310.
1693 . Letter of Van Quickerborne to Father McSherry, dated June 29, 1836. Graves-Garraghan,- Towle, History of Kickapoo Mission, 12; Garraghan, Jesuits, 1: 396.
1694 . Microfilm in the Kansas State Historical Library.
Paschal’s Military Records:
Record Source: Illinois Black Hawk War Veterans
Name: Paschal Penceneau
Company: Butler, P
War: Black Hawk War
War Years: 1831-1832
Service Entry Place: Monmouth, Illinois, USA
US, Register of Civil War, Military, and Naval Service, 1863-1959
Name Paschal Pensineau
Birth Place Illinois
Residence Date 30 Sep 1865
Station or Residence Place Kansas
Title Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval in the Service of the United States, Volume 1
Paschal and Laurent’s Ancestry:
Paschal Pinsonneau 1796–1884, 2nd cousin 5x removed)
BIRTH 17 APR 1796 • Cahokia, Illinois
DEATH MAR 1884 • Indian Territory, USA
Marriage 1839 • Kansas
Spouse Shikina Pensoneau b. ABT. 1820 • Kickapoo, Nation, Atchison County, Kansas, USA
Laurent Pinsonneau 1807–1848, 2nd cousin 5x removed
BIRTH ABT. 1807 • Cahokia, Illinois
DEATH 18 JUL 1848 • Cahokia, St. Clair County, Illinois, USA
Marriage 11 May 1829 • Cahokia, Illinois
Spouse Elisabeth Hayes (1810–1895)
Louison Pinsonneau 1765–1831, 1st cousin 6x removed
BIRTH 21 DEC 1765 • La Prairie de la Madeleine, Canada
DEATH 24 JAN. 1831 • Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois, USA
Marriage 12 Sep 1795 • Cahokia, Illinois
Spouse Louise Lecompte (1765–1846)
Pascal Pinsonneau 1729–1802, 6th great-uncle
BIRTH 19 APR 1729 • LaPrairie de la Madeline, Quebec, Canada
DEATH 4 FEB 1802 • La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
Marriage 5 Feb 1753 • Laprairie
Spouse Marguerite Bourdeau (1731–1793)
Jacques Pinsonneau dit Lafleur 1682–1773, 6th great-grandfather
BIRTH 13 APR 1682 • Contrecoeur, Quebec, Canada
DEATH 22 MAR 1773 • La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
Marriage 21 Jul 1712 • Laprairie, Quebec, Canada
Spouse Marie Elisabeth Bourassa (1695–1766)
His 2x great-grandfather:
François Pinsonneau dit Lafleur 1646–1731 (my 7th great-grandfather)
BIRTH 1646 • Saintogne, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France
DEATH 26 JAN 1731 • La Prairie (Notre-Dame-de-LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine), Québec
Marriage 1 May 1673 • St-Ours, Sorel, Quebec, Canada
Marriage to Anne LeBer (Leper) (1647–1732)
Served with the Carignan Salieres Regiment and fought the Iroquois in 1665-66
Marriage 1 May 1673 • St-Ours, Sorel, Quebec, Canada
Spouse Anne LeBer (Leper) (1647–1732) a Fille du Roi
Paschal and Laurent’s relationship to me:
Paschal Pinsonneau (1796 - 1884) — my 2nd cousin 5x removed
Louison Pinsonneau (1765 - 1831) father of Paschal Pinsonneau
Pascal Pinsonneau (1729 - 1802) father of Louison Pinsonneau
Jacques Pinsonneau dit Lafleur (1682 - 1773) father of Pascal Pinsonneau
Joseph Pinsonneau (Pinsono) (1733 - 1779) son of Jacques Pinsonneau dit Lafleur
Gabriel Pinsonneau (Pinsono) (1770 - 1807) son of Joseph Pinsonneau (Pinsono)
Gabriel Pinsonneau) (1803 - 1877) son of Gabriel Pinsonneau (Pinsono)
Lucy Pinsonneau (Passino) (1836 - 1917) daughter of Gabriel Pinsonneau
Abraham Lincoln Brown (1864 - 1948) son of Lucy Passino (Pinsonneau)
Lydia Corinna Brown (1891 - 1971) daughter of Abraham Lincoln Brown — my grandmother
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