An Historical Sketch of the De la Ronde Family By Yves Drolet

Few families have seen their history shrouded under such a thick veil of fantasy than the De la Ronde (Delaronde, Laronde) of North America. Throughout the 19 th century, family members and outsiders alike have found countless ways of conflating myths with lies, making it extremely difficult to ascertain the precise ancestry of the numerous branches of the family still extant in Canada and the USA. Fortunately, years of painstaking research by meritorious genealogists has yielded evidence solid enough to enable us to sift fact from fiction in this strongly mythologized family history. Thanks to the combined effort of David and Geoffrey Audcent, André de la Ronde, Jean-Marie Germe and many others, it is now possible to trace with relative certainty the paternal line of the Canadian (English and French), American and Indigenous members of the family, who have long been wondering as to their exact place in the family tree. The Denys Family in France 1 The earliest known ancestor of the family is Mathurin Denys, a French merchant who was living in Tours and died between 1548 and Mathurin may have been a descendant of Pierre Denys who was sergeant at Tours in 1451, but he was definitely not related to Jean Denys, a captain from Honfleur in Normandy who made a fishing trip to the coast of America in The spurious connection between the Denys of Tours and Honfleur is part of a large-scale genealogical hoax crafted in 1897 and 1903 by the notorious confabulator and racist ideologist Frederick Gilman Forsaith, aka. Frederic Gregory Forsyth de Fronsac, who falsified the history of both the Denys and the Forsyth families in order to support his claim to a noble ancestry 2. The eldest son of Mathurin Denys, also named Mathurin, was a merchant of Tours like his father. A member of the wealthy bourgeoisie, he styled himself Sieur de Mussay and was appointed estate manager at a castle belonging to the Bishop of Bourges. He died in The social rise of the Denys family continued with his youngest son Jacques (c ), styled Sieur du Pressoir. A merchant in his early years, Jacques became a lawyer and administrator in later life. He married Marie Cosnier, daughter of a fur trader and gentleman of the chamber to the brother of the king of France. The second son of Jacques, Simon ( ) was a lawyer and administrator like his father, holding such functions as overseer of the salt tax collection at Tours. He also became involved in the fishery operation of his younger brother Nicolas in Acadia (today s Nova Scotia). In 1650, Simon and Nicolas left France with their wives and children to establish outposts on the island of Cape Breton. The following year, they were taken prisoners by rival French traders and transported to Quebec City. While Nicolas eventually returned to Acadia, Simon decided to stay permanently in Quebec. 1 Geoffrey Audc ent, The Denys and Cosnier Families of Tours in the Province of Touraine (France), Yves Drolet, The Aryan Order of America and the College of Arms of Canada , 2015.



2 The Denys de la Ronde Family in New France Once settled in Quebec, Simon styled himself Sieur de la Trinité. He became attorney and receiver general for the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, and was then appointed to the Sovereign Council of the colony. On the recommendation of the intendant, he was ennobled by the king in Widow of his second wife in 1670, he went back to France and died at La Rochelle 3. One of his sons, Paul Denys de Saint-Simon, was the ancestor of the Denis de Vitre family that went to Britain in the 1760s and became part of the English gentry. The eldest son of Simon, Pierre ( ) was the first member of the family to style himself Sieur de la Ronde. Born at Tours of the first marriage of Simon with Jeanne Dubreuil, he followed the family in Quebec City where he bought land and operated a brewery. In 1655, he married Catherine Leneuf, daughter of the governor of Trois-Rivières. Ennobled through his father, he was granted a tract of land along the St. Lawrence estuary, where he managed a sedentary fishery. However, failing eyesight forced him to cede the grant and live on rents from his properties in Quebec 4. While the first son of Pierre became a priest and the second one settled in France where his descendants form the noble family Denys de Bonnaventure, his third son, Louis Denys de la Ronde ( ) became an officer in the navy and in the colonial regular troops. A thirdgeneration nobleman, he rose to the rank of captain and was awarded the cross of Saint-Louis. Following in the footsteps of his forebears, he spent the first part of his career in the Gulf of St. Lawrence area. However, in 1731, he was appointed commandant of Chagouamigon, in present day Wisconsin, with permission to engage in the fur trade 5. This move would prove momentous, as it introduced the family to the Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes area. Louis married Louise Chartier de Lotbinière, daughter of a member of the Superior Council of the colony. Their eldest son Louis-Philippe born in 1714 was a military officer and a knight of Saint-Louis like his father. He was serving at Louisbourg and settled in France after the fortress was taken by the English in It is often said that he was killed at the Battle of Sainte-Foy in Quebec in 1760, but in fact, the Denys de la Ronde who died at Sainte-Foy was his brother Charles born in The son of Louis-Philippe, Philippe-Ambroise ( ) served as a French officer during the American War of Independence and then in the West Indies; he rallied to the French Revolution and was a general in the army of the French Republic. He died without issue 6. Another son of Louis, Pierre Denys de la Ronde ( ) left Canada for Louisiana where he became a planter, militia colonel and member of the Superior Council. His son Pierre ( ) was also a planter and a militia officer under both Spanish and American rule 7. This Louisiana branch of the De la Ronde family ended with Pierre s daughter Émilie ( ). 3 Alice Jean Lunn, Denys de la Trinité, Simon, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, Alice Jean Lunn, Denys de la Ronde, Pierre, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, Donald J. Norton and Bernard Pothier, Denys de la Ronde, Louis, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, Yvonick Danard, Le général Philippe Denys de La Ronde ( ) de Québec à Vannes, Bulletin de la Société polymathique du Morbihan, 2006 : De la Ronde, Pierre Denis and De la Ronde, Pierre Denis, fils, Dictionary of Louisiana Biography.



3 The Thibaudière de la Ronde family 8 The only son of Louis who remained in Canada after the colony was ceded to Great Britain in 1763 was Pierre-François-Paul, born in Known as Thibaudière de la Ronde, he was a junior military officer stationed at Detroit at the end of the French Regime, and he was instrumental in convincing the surrounding Indigenous peoples to accept British rule. He then settled in Montreal and took part in the defence of Fort St. John against the American insurgents who invaded Canada in 1775 and who briefly held him captive. His wife Marguerite-Suzanne de Celles Duclos was granted separation from him because of his dissipation, and in 1777, he left for France where he received a military pension and died about The two eldest sons of Pierre-François-Paul were both named Louis Thibaudière, which was the source of much confusion. Louis the Elder born in 1750 became a lieutenant in the companies of Canadian volunteers who joined General Burgoyne s expedition against the Americans in 1777; he was killed at the Battle of Saratoga. For decades, genealogists wondered how he could have resurfaced as a fur trader in the 1780s. They had to wait until 1982 to discover that he had a namesake brother born in Louis the Younger went to the Upper Country of Canada around 1777 to muster Indigenous support for the British against the Americans. There, he established an independent fur trading post at Lake Nipissing. In 1800, he handed over his interests to the North West Company and settled at Sainte-Anne, at the westernmost tip of Montreal Island, where he lived as a trader and became assistant major in the militia until his death in The third son of Pierre-François-Paul, Charles-François ( ) also entered the fur trade. He worked as a voyager engaged in the transporting of furs by canoe. He was based in the Lake Huron area of Upper Canada, first at Shebeshekong, then on Drummond Island until 1828, when the island was transferred to the United States and the voyagers were removed to Penetanguishene, where he bought a lot of 100 acres in He styled himself chevalier as the grandson of a knight of Saint-Louis. His descendants referred to him as Count Thibaudière and fancifully claimed that he was a descendant of the Bourbon kings of France 10. The children of Louis the Younger and Newtjikijikokwe During all his years at Lake Nipissing, Louis the Younger lived in a marital relationship with an Indigenous woman named Newtjikijikokwe (also known as Marie Wosneswesquigigo). They had eleven children, including six daughters: Cécile born c1779, wife of Jean-Baptiste Roussin; Madeleine born c1784, wife of the Scottish-born fur trader Charles William Gibson; Élisabeth born c1787, wife of Alexis Sauvé; Angélique born 1795, wife of Bernardin Gauthier; Dorothée born 1796; and Adélaïde born Their five sons were François, Eustache, Toussaint, Louis, and Léandre. They were all involved in the fur trade and three of them eventually became farmers. François born c1780 was the spouse 8 Yves Drolet, L énigme Thibaudière : Louis Denys de La Ronde et sa famille, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française, 64 (2013) : Marthe Faribault-Beauregard, La population des forts français d Amérique (XVIIIe siècle), Jean Locas, Familles Locas et Demers,



4 of Marie Anne Kichiabanokwe; he died before August 1817, apparently without issue. Eustache born c1782 was the spouse of Pemtakakotepitch; he lived in the upper Ottawa valley and farmed a land in Bristol Township, Quebec. He died in 1864, leaving one son Alexander Aquakosh Laronde, who settled in Pembroke, Ontario and lived in the Indian Reserve of Nipissing in the 1880s. Alexander and his spouse Mary Ann Stoqua had several children who worked as farmers and lumbermen in the Pembroke and North Bay areas, where their numerous descendants still live today. Like his brother Eustache, Toussaint born c1783 also turned farmer. He settled at Allumette Island on the Ottawa River with his wife Marie Kekijcakoe. They had several children, farmers and labourers, whose descendants now live around Pembroke, North Bay, Sturgeon Falls and Sudbury. As for Léandre born c1799, he joined Eustache in Bristol Township with his spouse Catherine Hudson (Hodgson), daughter of the English-born fur trader John Hodgson who was chief factor for the Hudson s Bay Company 11. Louis Delaronde born c1789 followed an altogether different path than his brothers. Instead of settling in the Ottawa valley, he moved west and worked as a clerk for the Hudson s Bay Company in current day Saskatchewan from 1815 to He then settled at Red River (now Manitoba), where he married Madeleine Boucher, the Métis daughter of a French Canadian trader. He ran a freighting and trading business with his children at Saint-Laurent and Saint- Boniface. His descendants still live in Manitoba 12. The children of Louis the Younger and Marie-Louise King After he sold his trading post and settled at Sainte-Anne in 1800, Louis the Younger married Marie-Louise King, widow of a merchant, at the Catholic Church, although Newtjikijikokwe was still living. This was accepted practice at the time, as the Church did not recognize as marriages the marital relationships with Indigenous spouses that had not been blessed by a priest. After Louis s death in 1808, Marie-Louise petitioned the government for a pension in reward of his services during the American War of Independence, and she was granted a lot at St. Andrew s East (now Saint-André-d Argenteuil, Quebec), not far from Sainte-Anne, on the north side of the Ottawa River. Louis and Marie-Louise had five children: Louis, Charles, Michel-Gaspard, Pierre-Alexandre, and Joseph-Adolphe born 1808 who might have died young as he left no trace in the records. Louis ( ) followed in his father s footsteps and became a fur trader in Northern Ontario 13. He entered the service of the North West Company in 1818 and remained in the service of the Hudson s Bay Company after the merger of the two companies in He spent his entire career as a clerk in the Lake Nipigon area, where he was joined by his brother Charles ( ), who styled himself Sir Charles de Laronde, Count of St. Simon and worked in the fur trade before becoming a schoolteacher at Red Rock, where he died without issue. 11 Jennifer Brown, Hodgson, John, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, Nicole St-Onge, Saint-Laurent, Manitoba: Evolving Métis Identities, , Elizabeth Arthur, The de Larondes of Lake Nipigon, Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Papers and Records, 9 (1981):



5 Louis had an Indigenous spouse, known as the daughter of The Pelican. While one of their daughters, Louise ( ) married Pierriche Deschamps, an independent fur trader nicknamed the Emperor of Nipigon who became chief of the Red Rock Ojibwe band and was seen as a competitor of the Hudson s Bay Company, their eldest son Henry de Laronde ( ) took employment with the Company where he rose to the rank of commissioned officer in command at Nipigon and styled himself Count Thibaudière. Henry s brothers Alexander and Charles merged into the Indigenous communities of Red Rock and Pic River, and three of their sons went overseas with the 52 nd Battalion during the Great War, including Private Denis de Laronde who was killed in action while defending the country of his paternal ancestors in The last de Laronde of Lake Nipigon died in the 1950s. The third son of Louis and Marie-Louise, Michel-Gaspard ( ) took a totally different direction from that of his elder brothers. He became a notary, first at St. Andrew s East and then at Valleyfield, Quebec. Throughout his life, he spared no effort to press claims on seigneurial rights of which his ancestors were supposedly despoiled, to no avail. After a dispute with the Roman Catholic Church, he converted to Protestantism with his wife Julia Teasdale, as a consequence of which his descendants were anglicized. Michel-Gaspard s elder son Ronald de La Ronde ( ) was a lawyer at St. Andrew s East, where he married Martha McMartin; their son Rupert ( ) moved to Massachusetts with his wife Flora Atkins, and his last male-line descendant died in Florida in Ronald s brother Stewart de La Ronde ( ) went to Ottawa where he became police chief. He was also an army officer and was appointed colonel in command at Petawawa during World War 1. His sons Stuart and Wilfrid were prominent businessmen in Ottawa, and Wilfrid s descendants now live in Nova Scotia, near the place where their ancestors had first set foot on the American continent. The fourth son of Louis and Marie-Louise, Pierre-Alexandre (1806-c1888) became a farmer at Sainte-Marthe, a village facing St. Andrew s East on the south side of the Ottawa River, where he lived with his wife Isabella Cuthbertson. His styled himself Duke of Saint-Simon and was involved in Michel-Gaspard s endeavours to recover the supposed family inheritance. Contrary to his brother, he stayed Roman Catholic and his descendants have remained French Canadians. His three sons married and left issue: Pierre-Alexandre ( ), husband of Domithilde Desparois, worked as a carpenter at Valleyfied; Charles-François-Paul ( ), husband of Henriette Thibodeau, moved to Lowell, Massachusetts where he owned a store ; Adolphe- Gaspard ( ), husband of Elzire Poirier, has descendants at Valleyfied and Huntingdon. John T. De La Ronde One last child of Louis the younger was the enigmatic John T. De La Ronde, who worked as a fur trader for Hudson s Bay Company in Ontario, and then for the American Fur Company in Wisconsin, where he finally settled as a farmer and died in In an autobiographical narrative published a few years before his death 15, he left a highly imaginative account of his origins that has baffled and misled generations of genealogists. 14 Canada in the Great World War, Personal Narrative by John T. De La Ronde, Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 7 (1876):



6 In his narrative, John T. (most probably Thibaudière) claims to be born in France in He introduces himself as the great-grandson of Louis Denys de la Ronde who commanded at Chagouamigon, the grandson of Pierre-François-Paul who was stationed at Detroit, and the son of Louis who supposedly moved to France after the War of American Independence, became a colonel in Napoleon s army, came back to Canada after the Emperor s defeat in 1815, and died at Sainte-Anne in As we have seen, this description can only refer to Louis the Younger, who however never set foot in France and died in As Louis was a married man in 1802, John T. was an illegitimate child born of a liaison with an unknown woman, who was most probably Indigenous as his birth has not been registered in any Church records and he himself married the daughter of a Winnebago chief, Elizabeth Winnosheek Dekaury. John T. lived in a pivotal period when Wisconsin was transitioning from a territory of roaming Indigenous peoples and fur traders to an agricultural State. A sign of the times, while his daughter Marie-Christine married the fur trader Antoine Grignon, his son John Jerome ( ) married Bertha Puppe, the daughter of a German homesteader. Many sons of John Jerome served in the U.S. Army during World War 1, and their descendants are now spread across Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois and Ohio. The children of Charles-François Denys de la Ronde As mentioned, Charles-François worked in the fur trade on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. His first recorded child, born of an unnamed Indigenous spouse, was François Wabichkipinesi Laronde born c1794. A voyager like his father, François married Geneviève Sagala in The couple eventually settled at Fitzroy Harbour, Ontario, and their numerous descendants live in Northern Ontario. A Eustache Laronde who married Elizabeth Miskwatesi in 1833 is said to have been the brother of François Wabichkipinesi. His descendants settled at Westmeath, Ontario and Fort-Coulonge, Quebec. In 1797, Charles-François engaged in a marital relationship with Madeleine Pewadjiwonokwe, whom he married according to the Christian rites in 1818, at which time their children were legitimized. Their daughters married voyagers at Penetanguishene, while their sons married Indigenous women. One of them, Étienne born 1815, left Penetanguishene for the Lake Simcoe area with his wife Marguerite Pintikiea. Another one, Paul David Niiohirasha Delaronde ( ) settled in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake near Montreal, where he married Marie Konwatiesha and left many descendants.


Conclusion It would be difficult to find a more diversified family than the Denys de la Ronde. Would Pierre- François-Paul look down upon his descendants, he would see English Canadians in Nova Scotia, French Canadians in Quebec, Métis in Manitoba, Mohawks at Kahnawake, and a host of other Laronde and De La Ronde in Ontario and the U.S. Midwest. They can all be proud to belong to a family that has played a prominent role in the history of North America.