Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jean Baptiste Vautrin, as he appears in the Fort Alexandria journals

There are descendents of this man in the area, and for these people I am putting any information I have about Vautrin in this blog, for all to read.

Source -- Fort Alexandria Post Journals, 1842-43, B.5/a/5, HBCA
Thursday Dec. 1, 1842 -- "Rather cold. The snow of yesterday is hardened. Men employed at house, carting and two (Dubois & Vautrin) begin sawing." Vautrin was at Fort Alexandria when Anderson arrived in Nov. 1842, possibly coming north with him from Thompson's River (Kamloops). Vautrin is involved in this chore for the next few days.
Tuesday January 3rd, 1843 -- "The weather is again milder, with snow. Mr. Demers went off; accompanied by Antoine on a visit to the Atnahs. Dubois & Vautrin sawing." Mr. Demers is the missionary Modeste Demers who lived in the gentleman's quarters at Fort Alexandria when Anderson arrived there.
In February 1843 Anderson took over the charge of Fort St. James in Ogden's absence, and remained there until April 1843; this note comes from the Fort Alexandria journals, but is written before Anderson returns to the post:
Tuesday April 25 -- "Weather clear and pleasant, employments varied. About noon the long looked for party from Colvile made their appearance (Marineau, Vautrin, & an Indian) -- the express had not reached Colvile when they left 7th inst. Marineau informs me that the missing horse from the land had reached Thompson's River." Vautrin accompanied the New Caledonia express from Fort Alexandria to Colvile, something that Marineau did every spring and fall!
The brigade went out immediately after the express returned, and Vautrin is not mentioned in the post journals for the few months after -- I assume he accompanied the brigade to Fort Vancouver that summer. Even when the brigade returned Vautrin is not mentioned as being at Fort Alexandria. He may have gone all the way to Fort St. James, or stopped off at Thompson's River. He is not mentioned again in this section of the Fort Alexandria journals.

Source: Fort Alexandria Journal, 1843-1845, B.5/a/6, HBCA.
Vautrin does not appear in this journal until, on Monday November 18th, 1844, "Today [to my] very great surprise, Vautrin cast up from Thleuz-cuz, having a letter from Mr. Todd dated inst. notifying that the [fall] fishery [failed], that he had killed a horse (Rapide) some time previously for food..." So Vautrin has been at the new post in the north Chilcotin, on today's Alexander Mackenzie's Heritage Trail, all this time, I assume.
Tues. 3rd December -- "This evg. the party from Thleuz-cuz arrived, their 9th day hence. Mr. Todd is with him, having been [intended] to proceed direct to S,. Lake, owing to Delonais' absence -- the cause of their detention was their having waited at Thleuz-cuz till Vautrin arrived there." The Mr. Todd mentioned here is not John Tod of Kamloops, but a clerk new to the territory.
Saturday 4th January, 1845 -- "Fine weather. Vautrin arrived yest'y from Thleuz-cuz with acs of that post, his 9th day thence." He must have returned to Thleuz-cuz. This journal ends July 1845, the next begins in the middle of a sentence in September 1845.

Source: Fort Alexandria Journal, 1845-1848, B.5/a/7, HBCA.
In this journal Pere Nobili appears and is visiting Natives in areas surrounding Fort Alexandria, accompanied by his novice and a man named Francois who acted as interpreter.
Wednesday 18th March 1846 -- Vautrin is still at the Thleuz-cuz post. "Mr. Charles arrived from Thleuz-cuz. He set out with horses to bring the returns hither, but finding too much snow in the mountains, he has left Vautrin & wife with the packs, and is come for assistance to convey the [latter.]" By this time Mr. Charles has taken over the post from Mr. Todd.
Friday 27th March 1846 -- "Linneard began to repair the harnesses &c yesterday -- Michel with the lads arrived with the furs together with Vautrin."
Tuesday 31st March -- "Linneard, Vautrin & Lacourse having prepared the ploughs, made a beginning to plough this evening in the home field."
Wed. 1st July 1846 -- "Nothing new occurs. Gendron, Vautrin & Roi employed about the new house &c. Linneard laid up with a painful whitlow." During this summer Vautrin and Linneard remained at the fort and did not accompany the brigade to Fort Vancouver.
Thursday 16th July -- "Linneard & Vautrin thrashed some wheat for grinding, as we have not quite sufficient flour to complete the quantity (50 bags) intended for the interior."
Vautrin obviously went up to Stuart's Lake with the incoming brigade in August, because on the 9th October, 1846 -- "Yesterday evening the long expected boat from S. Lake arrived, and this morning Marineau & Ignace, with Mr. Willm. Todd on his way to Vancouver, set out to meet the East side express. Four men, Crete, Fallardeau, Vautrin, & Roi are come down to winter here."
Monday October 16th -- "Lacourse cutting wood for Charcoal. Crete & Roi laying floor &c in dwelling houses. Vautrin laid up."
Saturday 31st -- "Vautrin (who has been sick during the greater part of the week) commenced yesterday the care of a coal furnace previously built & fired by Gendron."
Monday 9th November 1846 -- "Fine. Yesterday evening the wife of J. Bte. Vautrin (a daughter of Lolo's) was taken ill, and shortly after gave birth to a still born child. She afterwards fell into a state of exhaustion, and I was applied to for assistance. I accordingly administered, with proper caution, some wint & water & a little laudanum, which had a salutary effect, and on my going to bed a little after midnight, the woman was much better & breathed with freedom. Towards morning, however, I was again summoned, & found her in a dying state. It appears that after sleeping tranquilly some time, she awoke and conversed a little, but ere long again relapsed. Internal flooding I suspect to have been the cause of the poor woman's death; for little appeared externally. Her bodily functions, however, were altogether much disordered and enfeebled, and the [can't read words] was in a state that indicated that it had ceased to exist for some time previously.
"On several accounts I have thought it well to give a blanket to wrap the corpse in, for internment; the deceased being powerfully connected both here & at Kamloops."
Tuesday 19th -- "Roi made coffins & a cross."
Thursday 12th -- "Strong gale from South. The internment took place today, a large concourse of Inds. attending."
Tuesday 8th December 1846 -- "I have to record that today I was under the disagreeable necessity of chastising one of the servants under my command -- the more disagreeable to me, I may add, since it is the first occasion of my having to do so for some years past; and the only one since my sojourn in N.C. Having occasion to reprimand J. Bte. Vautrin for disrespectful language, which I did quietly in my sitting room, the man replied in so improper a manner that I was compelled to strike him a couple of blows, in order to maintain that authority without the possession of which one's efficiency in this country is more than doubtful." This last paragraph will shock some of you.
Saturday 26th December 1846 -- Yesterday being Christmas day, the men had a treat of meat & other dainties as usual. Today at 10am. Allard & Vautrin with Marten the Indn. set out to convey the packet to Ft. George."
Saturday January 16th 1847 -- "Vautrin returned from Ft. George, having left two men (Charbonneau & Desautels) on the way -- the former being sick & unable to travel."
Wednesday January 27th -- "Vautrin, Ignace & two lads have been employed since Monday (the former still), visiting & collecting the horses that are about."
Thursday 28th -- "Vautrin returned without having found the horses. It will therefore be necessary to continue the search."
Monday 1st February -- "Vautrin & his lads will accordingly proceed below in the search, tomorrow."
Thursday March 25th, 1847 -- "Weather continues raw & ungenial. Today Pere Nobili set out for Kamloops, accompanied by his man & Baptiste Lolo, together with Vautrin. The last, whose time was expired & who was on his way out, had my sanction to make an arrangement to accompany Mr. Nobili till the spring, when he will be disposable for the summer Brigade, &c. He has therefore renewed his agreement with HBC for another year. His wages during the interval of his serving P. Nobili will be settled in the a/c of the latter at Vancouver."
It is interesting to take a peak at one man's life and see what happened to him. Vautrin retired to Fort Vancouver and eventually Fort Victoria, where he again met Anderson after 1858.

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