Sunday, August 26, 2012

The mysterious Fallardeau who died at Kamloops, 1855

In the unpublished memoirs of Alexander Caulfield Anderson's oldest son, James Robert Anderson, the boy tells a story that talks of one of the men who worked, first at Fort Alexandria, and later at Kamloops.
Here's James' story: There are a number of other fur traders mentioned in the story but it is the French Canadian employee, who appears at the end of the story, that we are interested in.

In 1848, "my father had been transferred to the charge of Fort Colvile and we all moved to Kamloops where we, mother and family, spent the summer whilst my father was absent on his journey to Fort Langley...
"We were quite a large party on leaving Alexandria, as besides ourselves, Mr. Manson, his wife and family were in the party....
"I have a good cause to remember Lac la Hache for it was in that vicinity the following incident took place.
"I was riding my spirited little horse Petit Cendre ...; we were on a level plain, my sister by my side, when an eagle's nest distracted my attention, and carelessly dropping the reins, my horse in stooping to take a bite of grass stepped on them and throwing up his head snapped them.
"In an instant with one bound he cleared the space in front where the elders were riding and set off at a mad race across the plain.
"My horse was by odds the swiftest in the whole brigade so that when I looked behind the last of them were seen far behind, my father alone was scouring across the plain in a vain effort to head me off.
"A hill on my left, I fervently hoped was in my line of travel, but no, the road took through a dense wood and I realized that my danger was imminent....
"Two Indian women whom I met scurried away in terror instead of making any attempt to stop my horse, evidently believing I was from another world.
"Shortly after entering the wood the trail was blocked by a fallen tree, which had jammed about six or seven feet from the ground, and the road had therefore deviated and been made round the stump.
"My horse never hesitated but rushed madly up to the obstacle; holding to the pommel of my saddle I threw myself to one side and instantly had safely passed the obstruction...
Before I realized the cause of a wild yell, found myself in the middle of a cavalcade of Indians who instantly captured my horse.
"As luck would have it, amongst the Indians was a French Canadian, Fallardeau by name -- how he came to be here I do not to this day know, but it was through him I was enabled to make known my plight.
"A few minutes after my father came racing through the woods having made a detour, and after a time everybody else, the women folk in tears.
"Provided with a hair rope bridle I continued the journey on my now winded horse...."

This "Fallardeau" is the man we are interested in in this posting.
As James knew him, I must presume he is the Fallardeau who worked at Fort Alexandria under Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
Bruce Watson lists three Fallardeaus in his book, Lives Lived..
Louis Fallardeau was a French Canadian who spent most of his time in the northwest coast posts, and at Fort Victoria, but by 1860 was in New Caledonia -- it cannot be him.
Michel Fallardeau supposedly died in 1855, but he was in New Caledonia and was the man that Bruce Watson says was at Fort Alexandria.
Narcisse Fallardeau was a French Canadian who spent most of his time at Fort Langley as James Murray Yale's cook or servant -- clearly it was not this man.
There are no more Fallardeau men listed in his book -- but that doesn't mean there were no more.

Here's what Bruce Watson says about Michel Fallardeau:
Birth: 1806, Mixed descent
Death: 1855
Michel Fallardeau joined the service of the HBC in 1827 and came west with the returning York Factory Express in the fall.
For the next twenty-four years, he worked at mainland interior posts as a middleman and likely spent most of his time at Thompson River.
He appeared to have transactions with the Company until about 1854.
The records are not clear but, around 1855, Michel Fallardeau may have been beaten so severely by Paul Fraser that he died two days later.
Morice reports an apparent exchange between the builder of Fallardeau's coffin and Paul Fraser two days after the event, when Fraser indicated that rough boards would be too good for the rascal Fallardeau.
The coffin builder, Baptiste, the Iroquois, replied that rough boards would be too good for Fraser.
A short time later, as the story goes, Paul Fraser was killed by a falling tree.
This does not square with the records, for Michel Fallardeau goes off the records around 1851 but continues on the Sundries accounts which could mean that he may or may not have died.
However, there is no mention of his death.
Morice obviously got this information through oral tradition and the facts of the actual occurrence have yet to be sorted out.
Michel Fallardeau had one wife and one recorded child.
Most likely when he was in the Thompson river area he married Jenny Lucy Shuswap.
On June 30, when Jenny was at Fort Langley, daughter Angelique was baptized.
Another son may have been Louis."

So, with the new information I have just acquired I am interested to find that Michel Fallardeau was dropped from the records in 1851.
This tends to confirm that it was Michel Fallardeau who caught young James' horse, and that it was the same man that worked under Anderson at Fort Alexandria.
It is likely there is no other Fallardeau in New Caledonia.

I have heard this story many times over, and when in my book I wrote about an argument between Paul Fraser and Alexander Caulfield Anderson in 1850, I wondered if Anderson had heard about the beating death of Michel Fallardeau:
From The Pathfinder:
"Fort Langley buzzed with the news of the gold rush in California. To deter desertions, the gentlemen allowed a shorter break than was usual, and the work of the return journey soon began. There was no disagreement between Anderson and Manson this year, but Douglas reported to Governor Simpson that Anderson and Paul Fraser had argued:
"Fraser as usual promises great things, more I fear than can be reasonably expected from him. He had an unfortunate tongue, which is a never failing source of trouble to himself and all around him. Anderson was very bitter with him at Langley about some reports to his prejudice and was disposed to go to great lengths with him but I advised him to drop the matter and patched up a reconciliation on Fraser's solemn promise of amendment for the future -- which I fear was forgotten as soon as the parties separated.""

I now know that it was not Fallardeau's death that sparked the argument.
From records I collected after I wrote The Pathfinder, I can guess what the argument was about -- but I still did not know when Fallardeau died.
Now I do....

This line, taken from the Fort St. James post journals in HBCA, will help to clear up the mystery:
On Friday, March 7th 1851 ... "Fallardeau, one of the Cos Servants, died at Alexr this latter end of last month otherwise all well there."
This is a primary source, and Morice's quotation a secondary.
It would be interesting to know who Paul Fraser thought rough boards were good enough for, but it appears to be another man than Michel Fallardeau.
His son, perhaps?
Michel Fallardeau would have been in his forties when he died -- old enough to have had a son in the fur trade.

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