Michilimackinac

Marie Elizabeth Louise Dubois: Who is She?

Marie Elizabeth Louise Dubois was my great-x5-grandmother. She married Ezekiel Solomon. Click here for a timeline of Solomon’s life.


1748: Beginnings

St Laurent

She was born in 1748 in Montreal, Quebec. She was baptized Roman Catholic at St. Laurent Catholic Church. It is likely that she grew up in Montreal. She is noted in many places as being French-Canadian,

During this time 22,000 people lived in what we call Old Montreal, once the land of St. Lawrence Iroquoians. According to Wikipedia, Indigenous peoples had lived in the area for over 8,000 years.  The French set up a trading post and decided to establish a colony there.  By the mid-1700s, Montreal had about the same amount of people as Cobourg (my town) does today. Montreal was a well-established fur-trade French colony and was heavily influenced by the Catholic Church; they initially named the colony Ville Marie in honour of the Virgin Mary. Most of the population was Indigenous or French in the beginning but as Montreal grew, the population became more diverse.

Who were Dubois’ parents? When did they arrive in Montreal?

There was one source that suggested Dubois was from Penetanguishene… Was her family involved in the fur trade? Then, would Solomon be known to them?  Did she choose to marry Solomon?

1760: Montreal shifts from French to British Rule

In 1760, when Dubois was 12, French colonial rule ended in Montreal and the British took over. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 marked a turning point in Montreal’s history. I wonder if the changes in Montreal and the emergence of Protestants and Anglicans as Dubois was coming of age influenced her ability to marry Ezekiel Solomon.

How likely was an inter-faith marriage at this time? And why did she keep her name after marriage? She is usually noted as Louise Dubois, not Solomon.

Solomon was a man of faith. There is no indication that Solomon was a ladies’ man. The only woman he is ever connected to in anything that I have read is Dubois. After being released from capture by Pontiac at Fort Michilimackinac, Solomon was ransomed in Montreal. Soon after he opened up and ran a general store in Montreal.

Did Dubois meet Solomon at his store?

Did their value of faith and spirituality bring them together, even though their religions differed?

Solomon continued to work between Montreal and Mackinac for the rest of his life. He did not have a wife in the Montreal (the city) and another “country wife” in Mackinac like other traders. Rather, it seems that Dubois was present in and connected to both his communities.


1768: Inter-faith Marriage

In 1768, Solomon was part of 12 families who founded the Shearith Israel, the Sephardic congregation of Montreal.

In 1769, Dubois married Ezekiel Solomon at Christ Anglican Church. During this time, Anglican services were held in the chapels of Catholic Churches in Montreal. Christ Church wouldn’t have its own space until 1789, a church given to them by the Jesuits.

When I looked at a map showing St. Laurent Catholic Church and  Shearith Israel it was interesting so see that they were within 5 kms of each other.  This general area of Montreal might be where Dubois was born and where she lived with Solomon.

After the marriage, Dubois and Solomon followed their own religions. Later records show that Dubois was the witness at many baptisms by the Jesuits in Mackinac (1794-1807).  Solomon gave money to help bring Jesuit priests to Mackinac while also providing funds to Shearith Israel.

Dubois and Solomon had six children–all born in Montreal between 1773 and 1778. The children were baptized Roman Catholic.

I found a record in Solomon’s name for the deed for the sale of a slave: April 16, 1776.  I wonder about the nature of this. Was this an Indigenous person as was common in Montreal at the time? Was it connected to domestic service or his business? In 1803, Solomon would be selected by King George to sit on an inquiry to look into the slave trade at Michilimackinac. What did they think about all this?


1780: Moving to Mackinac

Sometime between 1780 and 1794, the family moved to Mackinac and stayed. Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 by the British to protect from attack by the Americans and/or indigenous peoples.

Given that Solomon had survived the attack by Pontiac on Fort Michilimackinac in 1763, I wonder if the building of the new fort on the island influenced the decision to move the family out of Montreal. Did it provide a sense of safety?

Another theory is that there was a reversal in his business fortunes that caused the move in 1780.

Some of the information I’m using in this post is from comments that people have left on some of my other blog posts.

“I came across information that stated Ezekiel and his then business partner William Grant each provided £50 for the maintenance of Roman Catholic clergy at St. Anne’s church on Mackinac Island, probably as an act of good will to the voyageurs and local FN and Metis community, but also, no doubt, to keep Loiuse happy. As you mention, Louise’s name frequently appears as a baptismal witness in St. Anne’s records, records which also document the FN/ Metis heritage of those of us descended from William and Agibicocona through their daughter Sophie, born in 1796 and baptized the following year, as the priest was itinerant from 1765 (the year of the British suppression of the Jesuits in North America) until a permanent priest took up duties in 1830” (Brendan O’Gorman).


1783: Life in the Fur Trade

In 1781 his house in Fort Michilimackinac is destroyed by a fire. Does this prompt a fresh start for the family on Mackinac island?

By 1783, Solomon’s business was booming. He was a big competitor for Hudson’s Bay Company. Perhaps it was this success that drew them north.

There is evidence that Dubois helped with the family business.

“Dubois was active in the fur trade when she lived in Mackinac. She is recorded at least once as the “Merchant Company” who engaged voyageur Alexandre Petis on 26 March 1783 to carry merchandise, victuals and skins on the route from Montreal to Michilimackinac and return” (Paul King).

“How much Louise helped him is concealed from us, in part because we don’t have the Montreal shipping records for most of the years. [The Voyageur Data Base] That she shows up once as a bourgeois in charge of shipping goods and outfitting a voyageur makes it very tempting to speculate that this was not a one-time operation. This is reinforced by her aggressive missionary activity in the area of baptisms at Michilimackinac – she was a strong-willed woman” (Paul King).

“Louise probably ran the business a good part of the time whenever Ezekiel was away or ill. She would likely have taken an active role in the business from early on in the marriage, would have been thoroughly familiar with both European and FN traders who did business at Michillimackinac, and, I’m willing to bet, she would have known of their approach long before they got there, perhaps giving her an edge over the competition” (Brendan O’Gorman).


1802: Influence in Mackinac

Solomon and Dubois had influence in Mackinac.

“The Rev. David Bacon, from Connecticut, attempted to start the first Protestant mission to the Indians on Mackinac Island starting in approximately the summer of 1802. His efforts did not succeed. The main reasons his efforts failed was that Rev. Bacon and his wife failed to learn the Indian language despite living several years on Mackinac Island. They had to rely on interpreters, who for some odd reason, insisted on being paid. Decades later his son wrote a short history of the attempt. I believe the memoir clearly mentions Ezekiel Solomon, his wife Louise, and one of their sons in this account of Rev. Bacon canceling a planned trip from Mackinac Island to L’Arbrecroche in NW lower Michigan in 1802: “The want of access to the Indians was still more discouraging. Without a competent interpreter, there would be no hope of gaining anything from a visit to Arbrecroche. The interpreter with whom he had corresponded through a friend, and whom he had so often hoped to obtain, had again disappointed him. Finding another man who could speak both Indian and English, he had attempted to obtain his help in the expedition; but that man’s father and mother—the one a Jew and the other a Papist — were unwilling that he should fulfil his engagement” Bacon, Rev. Leonard D.D. A Sketch of the Life of Rev. David Bacon. 1876. Reprint. Boston, Massachusetts: Congregational Publishing Society, Alfred Mudge & Son, n.d.. Digital images. http://books.google.com/books?id=R5UNAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false : .” (A. Dembinski).


Okimabinesikoue means Chief Bird Woman

I’ve always wondered why Dubois had an Ojibway name.

“Many have tried to discover why (or even if) Elizabeth Dubois has been assigned a First Nations name; it may just be because descendants wanted to associate such with her, it may be because she was highly thought of in the FN community on Mackinac Island and therefore granted a FN name. We’ll probably never know.” (Deborah Crawford).

“My research has brought me to the conclusion that she was half French and half Anishnaabe. The Bird clan are the spiritual leaders of the people. Hate to bring up the cruder aspects of eighteenth century imperialism, but marriage into influential indigenous families by traders was by then a time honoured recipe for good business. You also need to understand that during this time Mackinac was no backwater; it was the commercial hub of the fur trade in central North America. Pre-1760 it was the middle of New France, linking the Mississippi with the Great Lakes, the Prairies, and the St. Lawrence. To marry a woman with family ties in both Quebec and among indigenous peoples in the heart of the continent would have been of incalculable value to Ezekiel, and he most certainly would have known it. His documented success in the fur trade is proof of it; so too, unfortunately, was the destruction of indigenous culture at that time. However, it is extremely important to also note that Ezekiel and Louise are among the fathers and mothers of the Metis nation in North America, and whether or not we choose to take the political action of self-identifying as Metis, one of the three indigenous peoples of Canada, if we are their descendants, we are Metis” (Brendan O’Gorman).


1813: Death in Mackinaw

Ezekiel Solomon dies in 1808. Dubois puts in a claim to the Treasury Department to be given Solomon’s land (see the image below).

In 1813, Marie Elizabeth Louise Dubois Solomon dies. This is during the War of 1812. Was she a casualty of the war?

On July 18, 1812 the Americans attacked Fort Mackinac but the British held strong. In 1813, the Americans cut the British supply lines to the post so food became scarce. Soldiers were given half rations. It would have been a difficult winter. She was 65 years old when she died.

21 Comments

  • Pierre Gendreau-Hétu

    Hi,

    I would like to check with Brendan O’Gorman whether he was able to trace down exclusively female lineages of Elisabeth DUBOIS. I have a research proposal to offer if such a line can be found. Please let Mr. O’Gorman know of my email address. He can write and I’ll lay out the proposal. Finding out DUBOIS’ mtDNA could turn out a small breakthrough in understanding marital strategies in the beginning of the British fur trade era.

  • Jessica Outram

    I did a DNA test through Ancestry and it shows I am a match with her (and others who’ve identified her as an ancestor)–but I’m not sure how to interpret the results in a way to understand her background…

  • Sarah

    I am also related to Okimabinesikoue (Marie Louise) Dubois – my 6x great grandmother as best as I can tell given our genealogy tree. I’m so glad to read what you wrote, much of our history was lost with my grandfather so my dad and I are trying to trace as much as we can!

    • Rod B

      I trace my Metis (French/Ojibwe) roots back to Macinac, Killarney, Penetanguishene (DelaMorandiere/Sai-Sai-go-no-kwe) … and Manitoulin Island (Laramee/McFarling/ Piwabike ) I’m curious to know what the MtDNA haplogroup of Okimabinesikoue / Dubois ?
      I did my MtDNA (Maternal DNA) test with FamilyTreeDNA.com and learned that I belong to Haplogroup X2a .. which is Ojibwe/Chippewa … the DelaMorandiere, Laramee and Solomon families travelled together from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828.

  • Marlowe Blackwell

    Thank you for this post. Okimabinesikoue (Marie Louise) Dubois was my 4th great grandmother. I am just starting my journey into the past and this site was great find.

    • Stephanie Howey

      Hi Jessica, i thought this was a fascinating read. Marie was my 5x great grandmother as well on my mom’s side. My mom’s family is Metis from penetanguishine where the Labatte/Dusomme (William’s descendents) relatives later settled in ontario. It’s so exciting to find distant relatives who have this incredible connection to Ezekiel Solomon. I am in the process of converting to Judaism and it’s always fascinated me that our ancestor was a spiritual man who was deeply connected with his faith. I feel a strong connection to the Jewish people through Ezekiel which I am very grateful for. I would love to find out more about Ezekiel and his marriage to Marie because we don’t know a whole lot about Marie. In Tiny (penetang) simcoe county ontario many of the solomon descendents gather for an annual get-together, of you are interested I can send you some more information. I’ve never attended but my uncle and other relatives are deeply involved in the Metis side of our story. Please feel free to connect if you want to discuss information or just talk about our family.

      Great read, cousin!

  • Stephanie Howey

    Hi Jessica, i thought this was a fascinating read. Marie was my 5x great grandmother as well on my mom’s side. My mom’s family is Metis from penetanguishine where the Labatte/Dusomme (William’s descendents) relatives later settled in ontario. It’s so exciting to find distant relatives who have this incredible connection to Ezekiel Solomon. I am in the process of converting to Judaism and it’s always fascinated me that our ancestor was a spiritual man who was deeply connected with his faith. I feel a strong connection to the Jewish people through Ezekiel which I am very grateful for. I would love to find out more about Ezekiel and his marriage to Marie because we don’t know a whole lot about Marie. In Tiny (penetang) simcoe county ontario many of the solomon descendents gather for an annual get-together, of you are interested I can send you some more information. I’ve never attended but my uncle and other relatives are deeply involved in the Metis side of our story. Please feel free to connect if you want to discuss information or just talk about our family.

    Great read, cousin!

    • Jessica Outram

      Thanks so much for your note! I agree it’s exciting to find connections. There is a documentary about Jewish Canadians coming out this summer I think and there is some information about Ezekiel included. When I know more I’ll be sure to post. It would be fun to meet some Solomon cousins in person!

      • Michelle Lalonde

        Hi Jessica,
        This is fascinating. I am also a descendant of Ezekiel Solomon and Elizabeth Louise Dubois. I am interested in the fact that Elizabeth Louise Dubois also has an indigenous name (Okimabinesikoue) and there is some confusion over whether she was indigenous or was given this name later in life as some kind of honour. She seems to have been born in Montreal and often she is referred to as Métis. Was the name Okimabinesikoue on her baptismal certificate? Her marriage certificate?
        I am a descendant of their son William, who had four children with an indigenous woman named Agibicocoua, who was of the Sauteaux Nation (Anishnaabe). I am descended from their daughter Marie-Louise Solomon, through her daughter Louise Desaulnier, her son William Lacroix, his daughter Martine Lacroix, her daughter Estelle Gauthier, whose son Jerome Lalonde was my father. My dad grew up in Penetanguishene, where some of the Solomons ended up after Drummond Island.
        Anyway thank you for all this research. If anyone can solve the mystery of whether Elizabeth Louise Dubois was in fact Métis, I would be very interested.
        Michelle Lalonde

        • Jessica Outram

          Hi Michelle,
          Thanks so much for sharing and connecting with us here. These are such good questions! Every year I find more information trickles in so I feel hopeful we will one day have the answers!
          Cheers,
          Jessica

      • Allan Jeffery

        Hello Jessica

        What a gold mine your site is!

        My mother Betty (Bessy) Tyson was born in Killarney in 1926

        Her dad William Tyson was also born in Killarney in xxxx

        His dad was Myles Tyson who paddled a canoe from Montreal to Killarney after coming from Westmoreland England in xxxx

        He settled in Killarney and established a farm

        He married Catherine Solomon in xxxx and they are both buried there

        Earlier this year my sister started tracking back from Catherine and we were astounded to discover the trail back to Ezekiel who is also my 5X Great Grandfather

        I live in TORONTO and we definitely have to get together in whatever way is possible under our current covid situation

        Just spent three days in Killarney with some Herbert (Tyson) relatives and my sister Janet and we are so totally excited to continue this discovery

        Look forward to connecting

        Warmest regards and thorough appreciation for all your research that you have shared and that your site is gathering from so many other distant relatives

        Allan (B1954)

        • Jessica Outram

          Thanks so much for your note! Looks like we are distant cousins. So glad you find the site helpful. I’ve enjoyed collecting these stories over the years–and there are still so many more to share. I’d love to connect.

  • Chad Avery

    My wife is a descendant of this lineage, and I was wondering what documentation relates that she was Métis and that have the Anishinaabe names on them. I’ve only ever seen typed reports myself.

  • Cory M

    I’ve been following the story of Marie Louise Okimabinesikoue Dubois for about two years since ive discovered she is my 5x Great grandmother. I was excited to possibly be of Metis origin, but the more i read, the more it seems there is no proof or evidence she was actually first nations. Is that correct?

    • Jessica Outram

      She was connected to the Anishinaabe community and her name, Okimabinesikoue, suggests that she was respected and close to them. It is unclear if she was Indigenous or Métis. There are varying opinions on this. Her son William marries a verified Métis woman.

    • Rod B.

      There is a way to confirm her ancestry if there is a direct Maternal link back to Marie Louise Okimabinesikoue Dubois… through mTDNA …. if it is Haplogroup A,B,C,D or X2a (Ojibwe / Chippewa) …

      • Sandra S

        Dear Rod B., I read your message as seen below:

        “ROD B.
        OCTOBER 11, 2021 AT 10:18 PMREPLY
        There is a way to confirm her ancestry if there is a direct Maternal link back to Marie Louise Okimabinesikoue Dubois… through mTDNA …. if it is Haplogroup A,B,C,D or X2a (Ojibwe / Chippewa) …”

        According to Family Search, I am a descendant of Marie Louise Dubois. I have had DNA testing and do have some Indigenous DNA, which goes with what I was told by my French Canadian grand mother. However, I have more Eurpean ancestry than Indigenous.
        My question concerns the mtDNA Hapolgroup letters that would show which Indigenous tribe one is from. How does one obtain this specific type of test that shows which Indigenous roots I have? Can DNA Hapolgroups be broken down to specifically show that?
        My Haplogroup is J1c3, from 23andMe.
        ‘J’ traces back thousands of years in Africa. Does the fact that there is a ‘C’ in that Haplogroup tell me that I am from Ojibway roots? Please respond, as I really want to know where and with whom my Indigenus roots come from.
        Thanks,
        Sandra

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