The Voyageur of New France
Jacques Philippe (J.P.) Farly was born on December 9, 1710, in Montreal, and baptised the next day.
Jacques stood 6 feet, 3 inches. He was a tall, portly, well-built man with long black hair, tied back, and whiskers. Because of his height, he was quite an imposing man.
Jacques Philippe grew up helping his uncle in the family hat-making business until about 1736, when the government in "Paris formally forbade the making of hats in the colony and ordered the destruction of all the workshops in New France". Paris wanted to keep the profits from hat making in France.
This was an important turning point in Jacques Philippe's life and led to his being an important man in New France - a successful business man, fur trader and interpreter. He was making business connections in Montreal and at Fort Michilimackinac during the years after 1736.
Fort Michilimackinac was a fur-trading fort and trading post built where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron join together. It was built as a link in the French trading post system that stretched from the Mississippi River through the Illinois Country to the St. Lawrence River. It started as a small fort in about 1680, with a more modern fort replacing it in 1715. This strategic location guaranteed French Canadian merchants access to the western fur basin.
Jacques Philippe married Marie Josephte Dumouchel (Josette) in 1739 "PRDH No. 150005 - Mariage-JPF.pdf". Josette was the daughter of Marie Louise Tessier Lavigne and Paul Dumouchel Laroche. Josette gave birth to their first child, Marie Josephe Farly, in Montreal on January 25, 1740. She was baptised at Notre Dame Basilica. She died at the age of 17 at Fort Michilimackinac, likely during the small pox epidemic that spread through the area that autumn. In 1741, Josette was said to have given birth to a son, Albert, although this has never been confirmed. Her second child, Jean Baptiste Farly, was born on May 31, 1742 in Montreal, but he only lived for 2 months. He is buried at St-Laurent, Quebec.
On June 23, 1742, while living on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal, Jacques Philippe formed a fur trade society with Jean-Baptiste Marsolet in the office of Notary Simonnet and became "marchand-voyageur". In this position, he would call on "voyageurs" to help him in his commerce. Working with groups of two to four boats, they would command flotillas of canoes making the trip between Montreal and the Great Lakes. The voyageur should not be confused with the "coureur des bois", who traded furs whenever they wished, almost like outlaws, while the voyageur was bound by a contract normally signed in front of a notary.
Voyageurs Travelling to Trade
Josette did not give birth between 1742 and 1746; she and J.P. split their time between Montreal and the Fort. Jacques signed a power of attorney on September 11, 1746, for Josette so she could take care of his financial matters while Jacques Philippe was away either visiting Fort Michilimachinac or other forts which he did as part of his position of interpreter and bookkeeper.
Another son, Jacques, was born in 1746. There are no birth records for Jacques but his death certificate recorded in January 1968 states his age was 22 at the time he died.
Francois Charles was born in July of 1747 at Montreal.
In 1752, Jacques Philippe hired a voyageur named Louis Neveu, and in 1753 he contracted two more voyageurs, Louis Lécuyer and Jacques-Philippe Dolfin. In 1757 he hired three more voyageurs specifically for the trip to the fort: Pascal Pominville, Antoine Surprenant and Louis Beaupre.
Jacques Philippe was not only a fur trader, he was a bookkeeper and interpreter. In 1747 he signed an agreement to manage the business of François Dailliboust de la Magdeleine at the Michipicoton Post, north of Sault Ste-Marie. He became the King's official interpreter at Fort Michilimackinac in 1753 (see certificate).
After seven years without a pregnancy, on March 20, 1754, Josette gave birth to Mary Charlotte Farly who was born at Fort Michilimackinac. She lived to the ripe old age of 86 and is buried at St-Cuthbert, Quebec. On July 22, 1754, Jacques' sister, Marie Hypolite Favre, married Michel Girardin at the Fort.
Another child named Albert was born on August 2, 1756, at Fort Michilimackinac. Because this baby was named Albert, it can be assumed that either Josette did not in fact give birth to a baby named Albert earlier or that the first baby Albert died and she named this child Albert (a common occurrence in those days). Albert lived to the age of 80 and is buried at Ile Dupas.
Louis Joseph was born on February 23, 1758 at Fort Michilimackinac but died 3 days later. This baby was buried at the Fort. Andre Vital was born in 1760 at the Fort. They also raised two Amerindian 'slaves' who were baptised at the Mission of St-Ignace at Michilimackinac: Marie Charlotte and Louise-Joseph.
Jacques Philippe and Josette were quite prominent in the Catholic community at the Fort because their names are listed as godparents for many of the babies baptised there. The couple were apart for many periods throughout their marriage. Josette stayed in Montreal some of the time, and when she lived at the Fort, Jacques Philippe was often travelling with the boats and the voyageurs who worked for him. Josette made several trips to the Fort with Jacques. Travel between Montreal and Michilimackinac was not easy - it took 2 to 3 months for the journey, and throughout the trip the men had to portage at least 30 times. "Portage" describes the journey overland; the men had to carry the canoes and goods being transported. The terrain was rough and rocky and some areas were heavily forested with many small streams, hills and valleys.
In 1761, the French relinquished the fort to the English, along with the rest of their territory in Canada, following the end of the Seven Years' War. That year, Alexander Henry, a British merchant and writer, hired Jacques Philippe during a visit to the fort, although he never trusted him. Henry suspected Jacques was spying for the French in order to discourage trade with the English. As Jacques was a Frenchman, it would not have been spying! In his memoirs, Alexander Henry stated that Jacques Philippe was married to a Chippewa woman which gave him a great deal of influence over her tribe. This was not true because at the time Josette was living at the Fort with Jacques. Henry described Jacques as "a portly, whiskered fellow with greasy black hair, who could speak a little English". Henry was probably intimidated by Jacques as Jacques was very tall and well built. As a result, Henry never liked Jacques so he was probably quick to find anything wanting in Jacques that he could.
The beaver pelt was the foundation of the fur trade, but the Indians also traded in otter, mink, fox, bear and deer. The Indians became dependent upon the trade goods they received for the furs, such as iron axes, tomahawks, knives, fish hooks, cloth, woolen blankets, guns, powder, plus other items. Some of these the Indians had formerly made for themselves, so as trade increased, so did the loss of their culture.
When Jacques' parents were murdered in Montreal in 1763, he travelled to Montreal to attend the funeral and to see his sisters. After the funeral, Marie Hypollite returned to Fort Michilimackinac with Jacques, however, Marie-Joseph remained in Montreal.
On June 4, 1763, on the birthday of King George III of England, the war chief, Mineweweh, gathered 400 Ojibway and Sac warriors to play a game of baggatiway (lacrosse) just outside the gates of Fort Michilimackinac and the hundreds of half-naked young athletes, leaping and running around, attracted the English. This was a ruse constructed by the Mineweweh to attract the British who gathered to watch the game. One of the young warriors intentionally threw the ball over the palisade and onto the grounds of the fort. Alexander Henry had warned the British commander, Captain Etherington, that an attack was impending, but the British commander told him these stories were only "tales of old women" and to ignore them. During the lacrosse match, the players raced after the ball that had gone over the wall and into the fort, and upon entering the fort began their war cry. Alexander Henry describes the situation thus:
"Going instantly to my window, I saw a crowd of Indians within the fort, furiously cutting down and scalping every Englishman they found. In particular, I witnessed the fate of Lieutenant Jamette. I had, in the room in which I was, a fowling piece loaded with swan shot. This I immediately seized and held it for a few minutes, waiting to hear the drums beat to arms. In this dreadful interval I saw several of my countrymen fall, and more than one struggling between the knees of an Indian, who, holding him in this manner, scalped him while yet alive."
The Indians massacred one British officer, 20 enlisted men, 15 soldiers, and two traders. None of the French Canadians were targeted. The Ojibway stole what they could inside the fort. The Ojibway felt an abiding hatred for the British and extreme distrust after the French surrendered the fort to General Jeffery Amherst in 1760. They also hated the way the British treated the First Nations in the Great Lakes region. They had been completely left out of any negotiations between the British and the French and it was left for the individual tribes to make their own treaties with the British.
Jacques Philippe witnessed this massacre of the English soldiers by a group of young native men. Captain George Etherington, Commandant of the Fort, wrote about Jacques Philippe with gratitude because on that day, Jacques Philippe, along with Charles de Langlade, saved his life. Captain Etherington and Lieutenant Leslie had been captured and were later rescued by Jacques and Charles Langlade. Jacques last name was spelled "Farti" in the communique, perhaps because the British "l" resembled a "t" and was thus misintepreted.
"When this massacre was over Messrs. Langlad and Farti, the interpreter, came down to the place where Lieut. Leslie and me were prisoners, and on their giving themselves as security to return us when demanded, they obtained leave for us to go to the fort under a guard of savages, which gave time by the assistance of the above mentioned gentlemen to send for the Oatewas, who came down on the first notice and were very much displeased at what the Chippewas had done." Further on he included that "I have been very much obliged to Messrs. Langlad and Farti, the interpreter, as likewise the Jesuit got the many good offices thay have done on this occasion ..."[Historical Collections, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, vol 27, 1897, pp. 631 and 632]
Later, Etherington sent a letter from Montreal to Charles Langlade in which he expressed his thanks.
"for all your favors and do tell you that I have acquainted the General of your good Behavior who will write you himself by the savages who have been very well received." Further, he included: "my Compliments to Mr. Farly and all your Family ...".[Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. vol xviii]
In 1767, 29 fur shipments were sent to Montreal via the Ottawa River, and 13 shipments were sent to Albany by lake schooners. The French traders dominated trade at Fort Michilimackinac because they could send their furs more economically on the Ottawa River, whereas the Americans had to use the lake system (Lakes Erie and Huron) which was not economical. Of course the Americans were not too happy about this.
Jacques Philippe lived at the fort for more than 20 years. Josette gave birth to four of her children at the fort. As Jacques Philippe spoke French, Ojibwa and English, his interpretive skills were in high demand.
Jacques Philippe owned slaves, which had been an accepted practice since the time of Champlain. Slaves were sometimes blacks who were brought to Quebec from Africa via the Caribbean. Most were war captives of the French and their allies, and were commonly referred to as "panis" or Pawnee. These "panis" slaves were preferred and came from many different tribes, even the Inuit. They were most commonly purchased for domestic service. Some were permitted to marry and a few were granted freedom. In general, though, their lives were harsh and brief. One of the "slaves" living with Jacques and Josette was Marie-Charlotte - she lived with the Farly family most of her life as she returned to Isle Dupas with the Farlys and lived there the rest of her life.
After many years of successful trading, a significant involvement in the Seven Years War, and working closely with Charles Langlade, who is hailed today as the founder of Wisconsin, Jacques Philippe and Josette returned to Quebec and settled on Dupas Island, St-Pierre Archipelago. Jacques was 53. He became a farmer after signing a contract for the purchase of a strip of land in the "seigneurie" of Dupas Island. Jacques Philippe died in 1785 at 74 years of age, and Josette died in 1799 at 87 years of age PRDH No. 383294 Sépulcure-MJD.pdf. More about Jacques Philippe's life as a fur trader can be found in the French Connection document.