The French-Canadian

As a French-Canadian (my father was 100% F-C) I’ve long been interested in the people of my roots, thus I was intrigued by the namesake of my other (German) grandparents  county, LaMoure County, in North Dakota, whose county seat is LaMoure.

Cleaning out the junk at the farm some years ago, I came across the 1911 North Dakota Blue Book (the legislatures manual), and on page 531 found this brief biography of “my” LaMoure: LaMoure Judson 1911 ND Blue Book.

Having a county named after you is no small feat, even in a lightly populated county in North Dakota.  I mused every now and then about this Quebec native, and have kept a file with his name on it for a number of years, but not pursued the issue.

This brief post will not be expansive, but perhaps will jog someone else to devote more time and attention to this intriguing individual.

Judson LaMoure gets a Wikipedia entry, which is brief and interesting.  It includes a photo of LaMoure, and helpfully indicates that author Louis L’Amour is no relation. You can read it here.  An interesting link within the Wiki has more about LaMoure.

Frelighsburg QC , LaMoure’s home, is perhaps 3 miles north of  Qc/Vermont border; Elkpoint SD is southeast of Sioux Falls SD; Neche ND is in Pembina County ND, at the Pembina River, almost at the border between the U.S. and Canada.  Here is the link co-locating Elk Point and Neche.

LaMoure came to Dakota in interesting times.  In 1862 he settled at Elk Point, and 1870 at Neche.  During 1858-61, what later became eastern North and South Dakota was essentially unorganized U.S. territory.  It then became part of Dakota Territory, and in 1889,  North and South Dakota became states on the same day.

As outlined in the Wiki article, LaMoure was apparently a very astute politician.

He had a very long career as an appointed or elected official beginning with the 10th Session of the Territorial Legislature in 1872-73, and ending with retirement from the North Dakota legislature in 1913.  There were only infrequent intervals when he was not in elective or appointed office. This is verified in the 1911 ND Blue Book (pp 59, 63-65, 166-172, 175, 178, 182, 185, 189.)

Born in 1839, LaMoure died in 1918.

A most interesting fact printed in the 1911 Blue Book, but not mentioned in the Wiki article, is LaMoure’s connection to the Railroad.  Here’s as it is portrayed in the Blue Book.

from 1911 North Dakota Blue Book p. 59

There is no further explanation of this entry, which appears to show that LaMoure was chairman of the Railroad Commission from 1880-1886.

LaMoure’s term as railroad commissioner was a time of rapid expansion of railroads in North Dakota, including the Great Northern which reached Grand Forks in 1879.   (The Northern Pacific reached Fargo in 1872.).

It was in the early to mid-1880s that Theodore Roosevelt made North Dakota home.  It is likely no coincidence that the railroad reached Grafton and LaMoure’s home of Neche in 1882….

Doubtless there are more resources available, perhaps at the Library of Congress, fodder for further research.

For the time  being count this as one shoutout for a single French-Canadian who made a significant difference in this time in the midwest.

POSTNOTE: Some years ago I was visiting the local museum at Nisswa Minnesota, and an exhibit the day I was there was about Judson LaMoure, who owned one of the first cabins on the then remote Nisswa Lake.  The person in charge didn’t know anything about LaMoure; I knew little more at the time. Nowadays, Nisswa is in the middle of a major tourist area north of Brainerd Minnesota.

POSTNOTE 2: Hi-lited, the North Dakota rail network in 1914.


from Jerry: I was well aware of Judson LaMoure when I was in Moorhead.  I considered him a good example of a power politician.

from Emily at Historical Society of ND: You might find the attached photo of interest [below]. It is at Judson LaMoure’s hunting cabin in Backus, Minn. The man on the left is LaMoure’s brother-in-law William Hunter.

courtesy of Historical Society of ND: SHSND 10751-00039

from Remi, in Laval PQ: Interesting, the white population in Dakota Territory was only 2,500 at that time, much less in what is now North Dakota. I’m sure that many Metis were included as whites in the 1860 census. I wouldn’t call LaMoure a French Canadian, although he may have spoken French.  His French ancestor (Lamoureux) was a Huguenot who moved to England, and then two generations lived in New York State. His father lived in Newfoundland before moving to Frelighsburg. His mother and all of the women ancestors were of English origin. There is a courthouse in Frelighsburg named LaMoure.

I have been reading about the French Canadians who were repatriated to Manitoba in the 1870s from New England. Many of them were “kidnapped” by American agents en route, so the Canadian government sent agents to Duluth and St Paul to “escort” them to Manitoba.:

response from Dick: Of greatest interest to me is to shed some light on LaMoure, who most certainly was from Quebec.  This is already a learning experience for me, and my guess it will be for others as well.

additional response: The business of label is intriguing to me, personally.  When I titled the post, it was arbitrary, as you can note.  LaMoure self-identified as being from Quebec.  Wiki expanded this a bit.  On we go.

There have been many generations since the first French settlers came to what later would be called lower Canada in the early 1600s.  They were almost exclusively Catholics from France and French.  There was no ease of migration, then.  Thereafter came endless variations which we experience today in the midwest.  Do French whose ancestors were Acadians count as French-Canadians?  Cajuns? Metis?  On and on.  For now, I’ll pigeon-hole LaMoure as French ancestry from Quebec…but I admit I’m being arbitrary.  Whatever, he’s a fascinating character who deserves more study and ink than this blogger can provide.

from Lois, filed in a later post, but about this topic:  It is amazing to realize that the impact of opinions from anyone on how we live our lives and believe (or don’t) what we hear. As a child I recall “The sky is falling, the sky is falling…! Another is “What goes around comes around”. We cannot “throw caution to the wind” at this time in making decisions at every level of government in elections but rather read a variety of opinions and look at facts that will help us to know the candidates’ positions rather than opinions of the news media. No one should come out feeling like we were “force-fed” as occurred when we were babies and children, and now have a hatred of a nutritious food.

So many towns were named after or by “founders”, first person to arrive at a place where a railroad stop established in many cases. It was interesting to read about Lamoure and reminded me of where I live and knowing that the first family of the near area were descendants of Mary Towne Estey. She was among the last group to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials. After her death, the family move to New Brunswick Canada and one generation made their way into Wisconsin before coming to Minnesota. They also were considered French Canadian – actually of English origin.

It behooves us to read more, read deeper to get to the truth about people.