French Prairie Pioneer Biographies by Connie Lenzen, CG

Connie is certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists and is a past president of that organization. She has served as a National Genealogical Society Director (NGS). She authored the NGS Research in the States guide, "Research in Oregon," and has written articles for the award-winning NGS Quarterly. She is an instructor in Boston University's online Genealogical Certificate Program. Connie has served on the boards of local and state organizations and has provided volunteer service for many societies

1. Pierre Belleque, one of French Prairie’s “Big Four”

Pierre Belleque, son of Louis Belec and Margarite Baudoin, was born 5 January 1797 at Assumption, Canada, and died 13 October 1849 at sea.1 On 21 January 1839, he married Genevieve St. Martin, daughter of André St. Martin and a Chinook woman. It took a lot of work to be considered one of Oregon French Prairie’s “Big Four.” Besides Pierre Belleque, the other members of the “Big Four” were Joseph Gervais, Etienne Lucier, and Louis LaBonte. Belleque, a “mild and honest” man, worked with these men as they broke the prairie’s sod, signed petitions to bring priests to their community, and actively participated in the establishment of the Oregon Territory.

2. Etienne Lucier, a Man of Firsts

Etienne Lucier, son of Michel Lussier and Victorie (Deline-Edeline) Lussier, was born and baptised on 9 June 1786 in Ste Familie de Boucherville, Canada. He married Josephte Nouite on 23 January 1839 and Marguerite Tschinouk on 10 August 1840; both marriages took place in St. Paul, Oregon. He died 8 March 1853 and was buried 9 March 1853 in St. Paul.

3. The Gagnons of French Prairie

Luc Gagnon and Joseph Gagnon, two French Canadian brothers, made their home on Oregon’s French Prairie. Joseph’s untimely death in the California goldfields cut short his influence on the Prairie’s development. Luc, however, was a leader in the Prairie’s development. It was through his efforts that land was acquired for the St. Louis Church. He could not read or write, but he supported education. He sent his daughters to the Academy established by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in St. Paul. Education was a factor in creating a better life for the daughters of the French Canadian and Metis settlers; he made sure his daughters were educated

4. Hugh Cosgrove

Hugh Cosgrove, son of Hugh and Margaret (Fitzpatrick) Cosgrove, was born about 1811 in County Cavan, Ireland.  He died on 10 April 1901 in St. Paul, Oregon, and was buried in the St. Paul Cemetery. He married Mary Rossiter in June 1830 in Canada. She was born 3 May 1811 in County Wexford, Ireland, and died on 15 September 1873 at St. Paul. His second marriage was to
Amanda Barnes on 17 May 1877 in Clark County, Washington Territory. That marriage ended in divorce in 1883. He then married Jane Eggleson on 13 April 1891 in Marion County, Oregon.

5. Francois Xavier Seguin dit Laderoute - PDF or Word Document

Francois-Xavier Seguin dit Laderoute, son of Jean–Noel Seguin and Marie Rocbrune, was born on 5 December 1800 in Vaudreuil, Quebec.1 He died on17 December 1864 and was buried at St. Paul, Oregon.2   Xavier, as he was often called, married Julie Gervais in 1838 at her father’s home on French Prairie. Julie, daughter of Joseph Gervais and a Tchinouke woman, was born about 1820.3  Jason Lee, Methodist Missionary, performed the ceremony. Xavier as a French-Canadian was Catholic, but at the time of their marriage, Rev. Lee was the only cleric in the area.  F. N. Blanchet, Catholic priest, celebrated the marriage in Xavier’s religion on 23 January 1839 at Fort Vancouver. Xavier and Julie’s children Victoire, aged one, and Joseph, aged four, were legitimized at the same time.5 Julie died 9 July 1845 and was buried in the St. Paul Cemetery.

6. François Rivet, member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition & French-Prairie settler

Lewis and Clark – those are magic names in the history of Oregon. The two men and their party travelled from Missouri to Oregon and then back to report on the wonders they found. François Rivet was one of the expedition's voyageurs, a French-Canadian who became one of French Prairie's oldest settlers.

7. Joseph Delard

Joseph Delard, son of Francois and Catherine (Lavaliee) Delard, was baptized on 30 December 1792 at St. Pierre de Sorel, Canada.1 He died in St. Louis, Oregon, and was buried in the St. Louis Cemetery on 26 August 1869.2 

© St. Paul Mission Historical Society 2010 | all rights reserved | Website Created by Lauren Wylie Studio