MSS-064-Settling Detroit

Episode 064-August 1, 2017

Many of our ancestors spent some time in the Detroit River region. Some stayed; others moved back to Quebec. Today, Suzanne Sommerville from episode #16, the History Behind the Geography, joins us again to talk about the settling of Detroit during the time period of 1701-1710. We give you a chance to win Suzanne’s new book, announce our new tour, finish up with our suggested podcasts, and recommend another blog.



It’s Here – Nouvelle France Tour 2018!


Coming off our successful Acadian Ancestral Tour of last year, we are currently registering people for our next trip, the Nouvelle France Tour 2018.

This trip is designed BY genealogists FOR genealogists. But as anyone who’s been to Quebec City knows, you don’t have to be a genealogist to fall in love with this city. So don’t be afraid to bring your spouse! We will have alternative events for the non-genealogist when the rest of us spend a day researching at the National Archives.

To see everything included in this trip, you can download the itinerary at For sign-up instructions, go to And to sign up, go to

Although this trip originates in New England, we have made it as easy as possible for travelers from outside the area. In fact, as of right now, we have seven travelers coming from Texas!

As questions come in, I’ll post answers on the FAQ page. Be sure to check back regularly.

We’d love to have you join us!

EDITED: 2017-08-03  only 6 seats left!

Settling Detroit

In this episode I discussed the award-winning book Le Détroit du Lac Érié with Suzanne Sommerville. She and her two co-authors, Gail Moreau-DesHarnais and Diane Wolford Sheppard, all members of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, were recently awarded the Kulisek Prize from the University of Windsor for the best book to present new information about the Detroit River region.

plaque_erected in Hart Plaza

Plaque erected in Hart Plaza; photo by Lorraine DiCerbo

The project had its origins when Gail Moreau-DesHarnais began to study the original records in an attempt to identify everyone who came to Detroit with Antoine Laumet dit de Lamothe Cadillac from 1701-1710. The three women’s study of this subject led to the plaque in Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, located near the area where Fort Ponchartrain was established. The plaque lists all the men who were in the 1701 convoy (excluding the soldiers who accompanied them).

Detroit was settled in an attempt to prevent the British in the American colonies from trading with the Indians and to control the fur trade.

The Huron-Wendat tribes and any others who allied themselves with the French became mortal enemies of the Iroquois. The Carignan-Salière regiment brought some peace in 1664, but hostilities erupted again in the 1680s. The Great Peace of Montreal was signed in 1701 by members from several tribes, including the Iroquois. This brought about relative peace for the next fifty years, allowing New France to prosper. Both a copy of the treaty and its translation are included in the book.

Cadillac arrived in 1701 with fifty-plus workmen and fifty soldiers. It wasn’t until 1706 that the first real settlers arrived. Eventually, King Louis XIV gave Cadillac permission to award concessions of land both in the fort and along the northern shore of the Detroit River. Summaries of those contracts appear in volume 1.

Great Peace last pages Wiki

Last pages of Great Peace of Montreal-wiki, photo courtesy of S. Sommerville

Although the names of all the soldiers who populated the fort during the 10-year period are not known, the names of those who married French-Canadian women and traveled with them to the fort are known. Many of them stayed and are ancestors of their descendants living there today.

The book also contains the 1710 census taken after Cadillac was recalled.

Suzanne also shares several interesting stories that were discovered during the course of researching this book. She contributed the essays in volume two, many of which challenge previously presented interpretations and publications.

Sources for the Detroit River area

  • * Hiring contracts (found in the notarial records)
    * Parish registers from Ste-Anne de Détroit-all entries from that nine-year period were transcribed
    PRDH for family reconstructions
    QuebecRecords for digital access to original register images (the LaFrance database)


From the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan website

1702 Map of Detroit

Cadillac’s 1702 Map of Detroit from from_LAC_2_247120014_std, courtesy of S. Sommerville

Le Détroit du Lac Érié

  • * If you’d like to see the covers, a synopsis, and the actual table of contents for Le Détroit du Lac Érié, go here.
    * To obtain your copy of this award-winning book, go to the Book tab on the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan website.



For your chance to win a copy of Le Détroit du Lac Érié, just join the new Maple Stars and Stripes Facebook group at before August 20, 2017. On August 21st, I will use a random number generator and select a lucky winner for this 2-volume set. If you’ve already joined the group, you are automatically entered into the contest.

Contact info

For general questions to the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, email them at fchsm1608 [at] gmail [dot] com.
You can reach Suzanne at s [dot] sommerville [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.


Facebook group

Be sure to head over to the MSS Facebook group and chat with Suzanne Sommerville.


Although I’ll officially announce the Nouvelle France Tour 2018 in next month’s podcast, you can get information now in the MSS Facebook group.

Suggested podcasts

Gena and Jean podcastGena and Jean: a podcast in which “they take one topic related to history in each episode.” Recent topics include home remedies, cereal day, and US Postmasters and Post Office.





Genealogy Happy Hour podcastThe Genealogy Happy Hour: “Two ladies talk about genealogy and wine.” Topics include planning a research trip, brick walls, immigration records, and locality guides.





History-News-Show podcastThe History News Podcast: history from areas our ancestors emigrated from; often tells the back story to a current event or to an event our ancestors experienced, such as World War II and how it affected different European countries. Also includes ancient history topics.



Suggested blog

Peter Marcaurelle suggests Robert Berube’s blog Robert Bérubé Généalogie et Autres Histoires. It is written in both French and English. (Scroll down to find the English version.) Topics covered include “The adventures of Sister Saint Michel, Ursuline,” “Anne Pastourel, A Voyageur Mother,” and “Pierre Fortin: The Prisoner’s Lament.”

French-Canadian News

What's Happening Header



The Franco-American Centre, NH

August 8, 6-10 PM: Halfway to Mardi Gras, a mid-summer celebration of Acadian music and Cajun food in the style of the joie-de-vivre for which Louisiana and Acadia are renowned; place TBD

August 11, Candia Woods in Candia, NH: the annual Franco-American Golf Tournament, a fundraiser to benefit the Franco-American Centre and The Euclide Gilbert French Language Foundation Scholarship Fund

The American-Canadian Genealogical Society, NH

September 30: Annual Meeting and Fall Conference. Guest Speakers are Jeanne Douillard, Lucie Leblanc Consentino, and Leslie Choquette.

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