Is Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, the First Native American Literary Writer, My Great(x5) Aunt?

I always wondered if we had a writer hiding somewhere up in the family tree. My aunts write. I write. Now I have learned that a great(x5) aunt, Bamewawagezhikaquay, also known as Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, was a writer too: “the first Native American literary writer, the first known Indian woman writer, the first known Indian poet, the first known poet to write poems in a Native American language, and the first known American Indian to write out traditional Indian stories” (Robert Dale Parker).

Each time I read Parker’s description of Jane I am in awe. Whether I can prove Jane is my aunt or not, I am thrilled to meet her, to read her works.

How am I connected to Jane Johnston Schoolcraft?

Ezekiel Solomon and Marie Louise Dubois’s son was William Solomon. William had some children with Agibicocona, who I initially thought was my grandmother and Margeurite Solomon’s mother. William and Agibicocona did not marry. When Agibicocona died, William married Margeurite Johnston (sister of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, daughter of John Johnston) and had ten children.

Marriage certificates, birth certificates, and death records are important evidence in family history research. So far Bonnie and I have not found any official record that Margeurite Solomon was the daughter of Agibicocona or Margeurite Johnston. Many online sources suggest that Margeurite Solomon is Margeurite Johnston’s daughter, but there are some (although not as many) that suggest Margeurite Solomon is Agibicocona’s daughter.

In Lawrence Barkwell’s paper on Metis Soldiers in the War of 1812, published by the Louis Riel Institute, Barkwell notes Margeurite Johnston as the sibling of Jane Johnston and the wife of William Solomon.

Bonnie posted on our Ancestry.ca tree that Agibicocona died in 1800. Our research suggests that Margeurite Solomon was born in 1802.  I found this PDF online from the Wisconsin Historical Society that details the Solomon family history and denies the Solomon/Johnston connection. Yet other researchers list clear connections between the Johnston and Solomon families. A number of researchers note that Margeurite Solomon’s mother is difficult to identify.

Louie Solomon, my great(x4)-uncle refers to his mother as Miss Johnston in his account of the Drummond Island relocation to Penetanguishene in 1828. (Interesting side note: Louie Solomon states that his mother received a military funeral.)  A.C. Osborne adds to the editor’s notes of The Migration of Voyageurs to Penetanguishene in 1828, published by the Ontario Historical Society, a note in Louie’s interview to clarify that Miss Marguerite Johnston-Solomon is related to Jane Johnston Schoolcraft. Did Louie Solomon tell Osborne this during the interview? Why would Osborne add this in 1901 if it were not true?

The Simcoe County Pioneer and Historical Papers, in A.C. Osborne’s notes (48), suggest that Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and Margeurite Johnston Solomon were sisters again. I choose to side with Osborne. The anecdotal evidence is too convincing to ignore.

In Barkwell’s document The People of the Metis Nation: H-L Metis History through Biography, Barkwell lists Margeurite as George Johnston’s sister, John Johnston’s daughter. Barkwell’s research again supports the claim that John and Susan (Ozhaguscodaywayquay) Johnston are my great(x5)-grandparents.

Somehow other geneaologists are making the connection between the famous Johnstons and the famous Solomons. I want to know how. But for now I am putting my trust in the anecdotal evidence and the Louis Riel Institute. I am making the claim that there is a connection between the Solomons and Johnstons, and that Jane Johnston Schoolcraft is indeed my great(x5)-aunt.

FYI: Margeurite Johnston and William Solomon had a daughter named Margeurite Solomon. She married Joseph Normandin, which is my mother’s maiden name. Joseph and Marguerite had a son named Joseph Normandin Jr. who married Scholastique Berger. Joseph Jr. and Scholastique had a son named Louis, who is my great-grandfather.


  • Bert LeClair

    Hi Jessica. In researching my Solomon/Johnston family history I came across your blog.
    I was born in Sault SteMarie & my mothers mother was Agnes Solomon. Daughter of William Solomon. He is the son of James Solomon, son of William Solomon & Marguerite. I believe she is Janes sister.
    I plan on more research on a 24Aug trip to Penatanguishene.
    I live in Minden now.
    Also noticed the ENSS logo on your site. My daughter attended when we lived in Colborne…
    Small world!
    Regards Bert LeClair

    • Jessica Outram

      Hi Bert,
      Great to meet you. Small world, indeed! I still need to make the pilgrimage to Penatanguishene. I hope you find some interesting things! Good luck with your search.

  • Dianne Moore

    I too am a descendant of this family. Marie Helen Normandin (born 1825 died 1889) was the daughter of Margaret Solomon and Joseph Normandin. Could she have been the sister of your relative? Marie Helen would later marry Jean Baptist Frechette/Desrochers. I have just begun this research and have also just come across Agibicocona and have wondered the same thing. We have also found some of the same sources. Have you noticed that your family name, Normandin, is also sometimes spelled Normandaine and also, more strangely. Leramonda or Leramondo? Please email me and we can further share our resources and research as we trace our lineage.

    Thank you!


    • Hope Alison Pilon Dekker

      I am the great x 6 granddaughter of Agibicokoua Solomon , mother of Mary Metwaikemekenang,whose daughter Marie Tranchmontagne married Pierre Pilon Sr. and gave birth to Pierre Pilon Jr who married Marie Beaudry and gave birth to George Pilon who married Delia Beauchamp and gave birth to Loftus Pilon, my grandfather who married Rose Boulrice and gave birth to Nelson Loftus George Pilon, my father. I have traced my lineage from Mackinaw Island to Tahgaiwene Band, Wahnapitae First Nation, to Wikwemikong Manitouliin Island, to Spanish Ontario.

    • Jessica Outram

      Nice to meet you Dianne. Yes, I have seen this before. Somewhere in my notes I have a printed copy with a few more details. I have a bunch of information that I haven’t had a chance to post. I’m hoping to make some time for it this fall. I’d love to stay in touch! Cheers, Jessica

  • Wendy Smith

    Hello Jessica, I enjoyed reading your posting and I hope you are still monitoring replies. I, too, am descended through William Solomon and Marguerite “Johnston” – they are my 3rd great grandparents, and I am descended through their daughter Angelique, and her daughter … continuing thru daughters of daughters to me. I’ve looked through the baptism records from St. Anne’s Church (on Mackinac Island) — the entry believed to be Marguerite (which is a “sous condition” baptism in 1804, signifying that Marguerite had a lay person baptism prior to the St. Anne’s recorded event) does not list the parents, but Ezekiel Solomon and Marie Louise Dubois are the godparents. In one of the Ancestry.com contribution’s, I notice that Marguerite is not listed in the Johnston’ bible — which leads me to wonder why Marguerite would be omitted, (?) unless her mother is a different Sauteux N. American. May I ask, have you considered having your DNA tested, and if so, by which service ? Again, thank you for your informative article.

  • Wendy Smith

    Thanks, Jessica, for that quick reply. On this particular lineage, I only learned of my connection back in late May of this year. I became quite curious and went ahead and did the DNA test through Ancestry.com. If, in the future, you do the testing, please let me know, as I think it will be interesting to see to what degree the DNA may match. Several of the descendants through Ezekiel and Louise cross-match between DNA strands and mine, but they are all through siblings of William; so far, I do not know anyone else at the William/Marguerite level. Thanks, again.

  • Jessica Outram

    I did an Ancestry DNA test and it shows that I am connected both to John Johnston, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft’s father and Susan (Ozhaguscodaywayquay) Johnston through Marguerite Johnston. The DNA results show 0 matches for me to Agibicocona. I’m not sure how accurate it is or how they’ve determined it…DNA is not my area of expertise.

    • Jodi

      Hi Jessica
      That’s very interesting news! I am related to Marguerite Johnston and William Solomon through my grandmother. I did my ancestry.ca and I would love to compare information and to hear about your connection to John And Susan Johnston. if you would be interested in sharing information Please contact me via email.
      Take care
      Jodi Hayami

    • Jodi Hayami

      Hi Jessica that’s very interesting news! I would love to hear more about your connections with John and Susan Johnston. I am related through my paternal grandmother to marguerite Johnston and William Solomon. If you would like to compare notes please email me at the above email. Take care Jodi

  • Langley Robitaille

    I am researching my family tree, and I came across you information. I am also a descendant relative of Marguerite Johnston and William Solomon. I am trying to use ancestry to get my information strait, I am willing to share my information with you, maybe you could have a look and help fill me in? I think its awsome that the DNA test came back as related!


    Langley Robitaille

  • Karen Bell

    I am an ancestor of Agibicocona and William Solomon and I thank you for your information as I mistakenly thought that Agibicocona’s parents were John Johnston and Susan (White Ermine – Oshawguscoday or Oshaguscodawaqua Wayquay Dau of Chief Waubojeeg). I am just wondering if you had found anything more about Abibicocona when you had thought that she was your relation. I can share with you what I know about John Johnstone and Susan (White Ermine – Oshawguscoday or Oshaguscodawaqua) ‘s ancestors.

  • Mary Madeline June

    Hello, I have been enjoying your blogs about the Ezekial Solomon and their descendents. I am related through William Solomon and his daughter Jessie Solomon. Jessie married Charles Rousseau of St. Joseph Island. I knew William had several wives and which one I may have descended from. From the family chart you provided in your article I was able see that Margarite Johnston was Jessie’s mother and William’s 2nd wife, so it is great to learn that.

    I also came accross your blog about a connection that Margarite Johnston may have been related to John and Susan (Oshauguscodaywayquay) Johnston. I am familiar with the Johnston family history and according to the offical family genealogy research of the John Johnston Famiy Association published in 1992 they did not have a daughter or a grand-daughter by that name that I have come accross.

    John Johnston was brought up as an Anglican. From what I can tell he did not care for Catholics. John Johnston did have a fur trade post on Drummond Island while the British had their fort there. The post was run my his second son George. The eldest son Lewis was stationed at the Fort as an interpreter with the British military. When the fort was moved Lewis was transfered along with the other soldiers to Penetanguishene. Again from what infornation I have neither son had a daughter named Margarite.

    I would love to be related to the Johnstons but I do not think it likely.

    Keep up your great work,

    • Jessica Outram

      Thanks so much for your note! It’s been so nice to meet so many cousins through this blog.

      Since writing the post about Margarite Johnston I have come across similar research. So the question for me remains, who was her family then? How many Johnston families were in the same area at the same time? As technology makes information sharing I’m sure all could be revealed one day. For every question I find an answer to, I have 6 more questions, LOL.

      Wonderful to meet you! If you ever hear anything about her, let us know.

  • HJ Armstrong

    Hi Jessica

    John Johnston and Oshaguscodawaqua or Susan never did have a daughter named Marguerite.

    There is however one other Johnson reference to consider.

    On a list of “Return of the Indain Department of Upper Canada in the year 1813” it notes an individual named John Johnson working as a Smith (aka Blacksmith).

    His placement on this list, indicates he was stationed at a Mackinac in 1813.

    I can’t offer anything else. Other then there was another Johnson in the area.

  • Owen Woods

    Hi, Jessica! I am a descendant of Sophie Solomon, daughter of William and Agibicocona. I found this blog to be very education about our ancestry and made me more excited about reconnecting. Thank you so much for sharing. miigwech!

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