Moise Dupuis

The [following] was [written] by the author Rita Campbell. We share common ancestors, Moise Dupuis and Ann Christiansen. The story is based on the few facts known about Moise and Ann and general knowledge of the area and times in which they lived.

Attempting to tread the paths of a man who passed this way almost 300 years ago is both thrilling and nostalgic; when this man is an ancestor of your family, the task becomes a labor of affection and personal satisfaction. The life of Moise Dupuis is filled with adventure, danger, human frailty and tragedy, but in his own humble way he contributed to the history of his country and his family members who now inhabit both Canada and the United States.

coureur de boisMoise Dupuis was born on July 8, 1673 at Québec, son of Francois Dupuis and Georgette Richer. In the census of 1681 at Québec City, the little Moise, aged 8, is listed as a domestic in the household of Monsieur de Villery, the Conseil Souvereign, no doubt doing some small chores. Shortly after, the family moved to Laprairie where two more children were born, giving Moise in all one brother and five sisters.

The next thing that we have discovered about him is that he has become a “coureur de bois”, those Frenchmen who left their homes to live in the woods in the manner of the Indians, hunting, trapping and, in some cases, becoming more Indian than French. Why would he decide to leave his home and family for the wilderness? If we may use the events of his later life as supporting evidence, we can hypothesize that a prime factor is an almost irresistible spirit of adventure, if not a genuine wanderlust.

His passionate longing for travel and adventure took him into the land of the beavers and , in 1697 (probably earlier) we find him in Albany, New York. We can picture him, like his fellow “coureurs”, dressed in buckskin clothes adorned with a fringe, a long red knitted cap jauntily placed on his head, his feet covered in moccasins, a pipe clenched firmly in his teeth and his bearded face displaying a rakish smile as he sauntered down the streets of Albany, possibly to the disproving glances of the local inhabitants.

Exactly what Moise was doing in Albany I cannot say as yet as there is much more research to do on him. There is an opinion that he was part of a group of Frenchmen who had participated in retaliatory raids in those parts, but I am not inclined to agree with this as he was evidently quite well received in Albany. There was a group of young Frenchmen irked by the restrictions placed on the fur trade in Canada, who came to Albany and made an offer to the Governor to bring their furs to him on a regular basis. This may have been his mission in Albany. At any rate, in the records of the Albany Dutch Reformed Church date July 21, 1697, it is noted: “Moses (Moise) De Puis, young man from Canada, and Annetje Christiaansz (Anne Christiansen), a young damsel, both living here” were married.

Annetje was, no doubt, a girl of Dutch parentage, but we have been unable to find a record of her birth. Later, at her Baptism in Canada, she stated that she was born in Corlaer (Schenectady) in 1675. The religious needs of the residents of Schenectady were taken care of in Albany prior to 1694, but the earliest church records in Albany begin in 1683 so her baptism record would be impossible to find. Moreover, any early records on any family are not too well preserved. There were some families names Christianson in the area, also Carstensen (Norwegian for Christiansen) but none with a daughter named Anne of that age.

Was Annetje living in Schenectady at the time of the massacre and burning by the French and Indians. Impossible to say but J. Pearson in his “Genealogies of the First Settlers of Schenectady” does not list anyone of that name.

There is another interesting notation in the records of the Albany Dutch Reformed Church noted under births. On 27 of December 1696 there was baptized one Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, son of Moyse Dupuis and Anna, the witness being Abigail Verplank, daughter of Isaac Verplank, a shoemaker and burgher at Albany. A footnote added states that this child, Jean-Baptiste, was the illegitimate son of a semi-black mother and a Christian father. Is this the same Anne whom Moise married six months later and took to Canada with him and who perhaps took the name Christiansen because her father was a Christian and her mother a slave?

Moise and his bride went to Canada after the peace of 1697 and she was baptized in the Catholic faith at Montreal in 1699. She had for godfather the Governor of Montreal, Monsieur de Calliere, and for godmother, Marie Chapoux, wife of the Intendant Bochard-Champigny. She took the name Marie-Anne Louise. The prestige of her sponsors would indicate that the couple were held in high esteem by their fellow citizens.

Moise and Anne lived in Laprairie where they raised seven children. In 1750 an epidemic may have struck the village as Moise, Anne, a daughter name Barbe and a son named Charles died that year.

Notes by Raymond Dupuis, the following are a few additional facts about [Moise and Anne]:

Moise was the second son of Francois Dupuis and Georgette Richer. Rita is in error regarding Moise’s siblings, he had 3 brothers and 6 sisters. His older brother, Rene, born in 1671, was a fur trader, “engage ouest 3 Jun 1695” and later a captain of the Militia “capitaine de milice de La Tortue en 1730” per Jette. This brings an added dimension to the reason why Moise may have been a fur trader also; Was he in the employ of his brother? Did they have a falling out that resulted in Moise trading with the Dutch?

Mystery surrounds the child of Moise and Anne, Jean-Baptiste, born illegitimately in December 1696 as there is no further mention of him in any of the available records of the time, neither in Albany or Montreal. Did he die in infancy? Did this precipitate Moise’s and Ann’s departure for Canada.

Moise’s father and mother and siblings were already living in Laprairie, a frontier town on the south bank of the St. Lawrence river opposite Montreal, when he and his bride returned to Canada, having located there between 1677 and 1680. Was this a case of the prodigal son returning to his father’s fold?

Ann’s parentage has finally been established. Her father was Christian Christiansen and her mother was Elizabeth Elderszen. Her mother’s parents were Ysbrant Elderszen and Neeltje (last name unknown).

The fact that Ann’s godparents at her baptism in Montreal in 1699 were prestigious residents of Montreal and the fact that Moise’s brother Rene was elected “capitain de milice” leads one to conclude that the Dupuis family of the time were held in high regard. However, no Dupuis’ are prominently mentioned in the early history of Laprairie. Further research along these lines will be pursued to determine why.

Moise and Ann had 9 children, not seven as reported by Rita in her “histoire”, there were 3 boys and 6 girls. Francois, the sixth child, born on 14 February 1709 and married on 12 January 1733 to Marie Ann Roy, was our direct ancestor.

The death of Moise and Ann, and two of their children, during the “epidemic” of 1750 brought to a close the romantic and adventuresome life of two of the most colorful members of the Dupuis clan. Their blood, however diluted, still runs in our veins. I’m sure that this is a major reason why this line has endured for over three hundred years and God willing will survive for three hundred more.