Summer Events 2022

UP NEXT: SAM PAMBRUN

JUNE 18 at 10 am

Reading Between the Ruts: Historic Trails of the Walla Walla Valley.

Image: Telescope view of Oregon Trail ruts on the foothills. Photo credit Sam Pambrun.

Sometimes old maps don’t tell the truth, but the ruts never lie. Sam Pambrun knows–he’s walked them. 

Many of our modern roads follow existing Indigenous trails. Their pattern is still visible in Walla Walla’s main street, whose bend follows the historic Nez Perce trail. The Oregon Trail also left deep ruts on the topography of the Walla Walla valley. You can still see their shadows when the light is right.

Join us June 18 at the Frenchtown site at 10 am for this hands-on presentation. We’ll have pictures and historic maps to share, and Sam’s inexhaustible well of knowledge of local history and the land. Come learn about the Mullan Road, the Celilo road, the Koleki maps, and how Thomas and Ruckel pulled a fast one.


JULY 23, 10-12 am: Prince’s Cabin Open House

Have you ever peered through the windows of the Prince’s Cabin, wishing you could go inside? Now’s your chance! Frenchtown board members will be on hand to talk about the cabin restoration process and the history of trade and technology in the region.


August 20th, 10-12 am: Frenchtown Living History and Fur Trade Artifacts

William McBean was a French Canadian, Scots, métis fur trade man, and one of the earliest settlers at Frenchtown. In his 150th year of retirement, he’ll be dropping by with his collection of fur trade artifacts and ENTIRELY TRUTHFUL STORIES. This is a great opportunity to touch and manipulate items you might only ever see in a museum case.


The Flower Report

Despite cold and rain, we had flowers in bloom and a great turnout for Memorial Day. Frenchtown board members shared tips about the life cycles of native flowers and information about the history of the site. We saw some old friends and met some new members. Watch out for a seed gathering event in the fall!


June 18, 10-12 am: Sam Pambrun

READING BETWEEN THE RUTS: HISTORIC TRAILS OF THE WALLA WALLA VALLEY.


Sometimes old maps don’t tell the truth, but the ruts never lie. Sam Pambrun knows–he’s walked them.

Many of our modern roads follow existing Indigenous trails. Their pattern is still visible in Walla Walla’s main street, whose bend follows the historic Nez Perce trail. The Oregon Trail also left deep ruts on the topography of the Walla Walla valley. You can still see their shadows when the light is right.

Bryan Borstel took this photo with a big game spotting scope and a cell phone camera. It shows the ruts of the Oregon Trail on the foothills to the south of the Whitman Mission. Narcissa would climb the hill with her telescope and see wagons coming six hours before they reached the Mission.

Join us June 18 at the Frenchtown site at 10 am for this hands-on presentation. We’ll have pictures and historic maps to share, and Sam’s inexhaustible well of knowledge of local history and the land. Come learn about the Mullan Road, the Celilo road, the Kolecki maps, and how Thomas and Ruckel pulled a fast one.

Memorial Day Flower Tour

Save the date! Join us on Monday, May 30 for Flowers+History!

Frenchtown Memorial Day Flower tour

Monday, May 30 from 9 to 11 am

Why so early, you say? Well, it’s because of the blue flax. This time of year, the most magnificent show in the cemetery is the blue flax (see image above). Blue flax is an early riser, however. It blooms a single flower to each stem every morning, and drops its petals by noon. If you want to see the full show, drifts and waves of blue, you have to arrive while it’s still relatively cool. Come too late, and you’ll see nothing but a blue dusting of dried petals on the ground. 

It turns out humans prefer it to be relatively cool as well. 

Members of the Frenchtown Historical Foundation will be on hand to give informal presentations of the Frenchtown cemetery and the native plant restoration project. We’ll talk about the history of the site and the cemetery, and be happy to answer any questions you have too. 

If you haven’t visited the site, or if you are interested in plant restoration projects, or if you’d like to take a pleasant walk near town, this is the event for you. Dogs are welcome on leash, as there will be other people and dogs around.

When is it? Monday, May 30, from 9-11 am.

What’s in bloom? Blue flax, lacy phacelia, blanket flower, Rocky Mountain penstemon, and yellow lupine The site has been planted to Great Basin Rye grass, with patches of Snake river wheat grass, Indian rice grass, and other Columbia plateau natives. Large patches of mustard are also in bloom now, quite pretty in their own invasive, frustrating way.

Where is it? 8364 Old Highway 12, Walla Walla, WA

How much does it cost? It’s free! (But donations are always welcome — COVID was hard on nonprofit organizations)

May 30th- Memorial Day Flower Tour

Save the date! Join us on Monday, May 30 for Flowers+History!
Frenchtown Memorial Day Flower tour

Monday, May 30 from 9 to 11 am

Why so early, you say? Well, it’s because of the blue flax. This time of year, the most magnificent show in the cemetery is the blue flax (see image above). Blue flax is an early riser, however. It blooms a single flower to each stem every morning, and drops its petals by noon. If you want to see the full show, drifts and waves of blue, you have to arrive while it’s still relatively cool. Come too late, and you’ll see nothing but a blue dusting of dried petals on the ground. 

It turns out humans prefer it to be relatively cool as well. 

Members of the Frenchtown Historical Foundation will be on hand to give informal presentations of the Frenchtown cemetery and the native plant restoration project. We’ll talk about the history of the site and the cemetery, and be happy to answer any questions you have too. 

If you haven’t visited the site, or if you are interested in plant restoration projects, or if you’d like to take a pleasant walk near town, this is the event for you. Dogs are welcome on leash, as there will be other people and dogs around.

When is it? Monday, May 30, from 9-11 am.

What’s in bloom? Blue flax, lacy phacelia, blanket flower, Rocky Mountain penstemon, and yellow lupine The site has been planted to Great Basin Rye grass, with patches of Snake river wheat grass, Indian rice grass, and other Columbia plateau natives. Large patches of mustard are also in bloom now, quite pretty in their own invasive, frustrating way.

Where is it? 8364 Old Highway 12, Walla Walla, WA

How much does it cost? It’s free! (But donations are always welcome — COVID was hard on nonprofit organizations).

How much does it cost? It’s free! (But donations are always welcome — COVID was hard on nonprofit organizations).

RSVP or questions to frenchtownhistoricfoundation@gmail.com

A Holiday Recipe Or Two

Happy Holidays 
from the Frenchtown Historical Foundation

Food traditions are an important part of Christmas in my family. My most recent adventures involved French Canadian Butter tarts (watch the video of Sam and me at the end if you want to see the tasting!). 

Funny thing, though — when I read the French Canadian recipes, I couldn’t help but notice how similar they were to my mom’s “secret” recipe for chess pie, the one we’re not supposed to share with ANYONE because it’s a special family secret. 

If your family version of chess pie (cough, cough, Fannie Farmer) is so sweet it makes your teeth ache, you might try out Malvina Riel’s French Canadian Butter Tarts recipe below. It’s made with a pastry dough that’s more like a sweet biscuit than a traditional pie crust, and the filling is gently sweet without overwhelming the other flavors. It’s the sort of dessert that makes a lovely breakfast, or maybe afternoon tea. If there’s any left, of course.

Or, if you like your sugar straight up with a side of nuts, I’ve included my mom’s “secret” recipe at the end. Promise you won’t tell!


Last call to help! There are just three days left in our 2021 fundraising campaign. Before you whip up a batch of buttered tarts, send Frenchtown some Christmas cheer!

French Canadian Butter Tarts

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups raisins 
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pastry Dough

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 400º F for tarts, or 350ºF for filled cookies. 

Soak raisins in hot tap water for 30 minutes; drain.

Cream together the soft butter, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, and cinnamon until sugar is dissolved. Add eggs, raisins, and vanilla and mix well. 

For open tarts, roll dough and cut ~5-1/2 inch circles; fit dough circles into muffin cups and refrigerate until ready to fill. 

Fill the tart shells almost to the brim and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes (gooey filling) to 20-25 minutes (firm filling). Let your tarts cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then finish on racks.

For filled cookies (like in the second photo), roll dough as thinly as you can and cut in circles. Place half the circles on a cookie sheet and brush with milk to wet the edges (this will make the two sides stick together). Add filling and cover with another circle; press edges together and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake filled cookies at 350º for 20 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Malvina Riel’s recipe box.


Chess Hand Pies – For those with a Sweet Tooth

Filling

  • 1/2 pound walnuts
  • 3/4 lb raisins
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Pastry Shells

  • 1 ½ cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4-8 Tablespoons ice cold water

Blend flour and salt in mixing bowl. Cut chilled shortening into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces remaining. Sprinkle water over flour mixture and mix GENTLY with a fork, add more water if necessary, until dough holds together. Make two balls, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut circles of dough to fit your baking pan. Use toothpick to poke a few holes in the bottom of each pie shell. Bake at 450 10-12 minutes. 

Pre-heat oven to 450º F. 

  • 1/2 lnuts
  • 3/4 lb raisins
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cream butter and sugar. Lightly beat 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks and mix in. Add raisins and nuts. Cook mixture in a double boiler until it begins to thicken. Fill pastry shells. Cover with meringue (optional: here’s a simple recipe that calls for 3 egg whites) and bake until lightly browned.

Source: Toni’s Recipe Box, Old Family Favorite and Christmastime Must


In case you missed it…

Frenchtown Family Stories vol. 1

In which Sam and Toni share some Pambrun family history and do a little detective work. Click to watch the recording on Youtube!

Sam even says he’ll do more of these… if he finds out that people like them. So let us know what you think!


This newsletter brought to you by…

Sarah Hurlburt, Professor of French, Whitman College, hurlbuse@whitman.edu, 509-540-4398

Toni Jones, Frenchtown Descendant, Pambrun/Dauphin, tmjgr1888@gmail.com, 541-786-3967


Frenchtown Oral Histories vol. 1

We recorded it! Frenchtown Virtual History Jam vol. 1

Scroll down for a link to the video. 

Note: No historians were harmed in the creation of this video. Watch to the end for a taste test of Malvina Riel’s butter tarts. 

$1,160

The Valley Giving Guide Frenchtown campaign has raised $1,160!  That’s a small slice of the $1.5 million that the campaign has raised for the Walla Walla Valley, but a great start towards our goal of $5,000.

Why $5,000? Well, that’s about how much money we raise for the Frenchtown site at our annual events, canceled by COVID. We use this money to pay insurance, pump the toilet, print the posters, and rent the goats. 

How much time is left? Just two weeks until the end of the year… and the end of the campaign. Valley Giving Guide contributions are eligible for bonus funds and incur no fees thanks to BCMF and event sponsors. Now is the time to contribute!

Frenchtown Family Stories vol. 1

In which Sam and Toni share some Pambrun family history and do a little detective work. Click to watch the recording on Youtube!

Sam even says he’ll do more of these… if he finds out that people like them. So let us know what you think!

Frenchtown History Jam With Sam- LIVE Nov 30

Tuesday, November 30 at 11 am

Did you know?

Are you a fan of the series Finding Your Roots? Toni Jones discovered her Frenchtown roots less than a year ago. Turns out she and Sam Pambrun are cousins. Sam is an expert when it comes to Frenchtown family history. He’s descended from Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun, the only French Canadian to ever be named Chief Trader in the Columbia District.

Tune in Tuesday morning November 30 at 11 am as Sam takes her through stories and pictures of métis history and culture, like this picture of Lum Pambrun and Felicite Dauphin

Log in early for fun informal chat! Toni might even organize a tasting — she’s been working on a recipe for French Canadian butter tarts. We’ll also have time for questions. 

Stay tuned after the presentation for the launch of our annual fundraiser in partnership with the Blue Mountain Community Foundation. Every donation through the Valley Giving Guide earns a match, AND your donation can help your favorite nonprofits earn prizes!

Frenchtown e-newsletter no.2


Three generations of Frenchtown métis : Sarah Clara Bonifer Duffy, Mary Duffy Sherburn (later Sams), Marguerite LaRoque, and Virgil Sherburn

Will a Frenchtown Descendant be the Next Director of National Parks?

The Biden Administration has nominated Charles F. Sams III to be the next director of the National Park Service. If confirmed by the Senate in January, he will be the first Native American director in the history of the National Parks.

He’ll also be the first French Canadian / métis descendant.

The two are not incompatible. Sams is descended from a slew of mixed race Frenchtown families via his great-grandmother, Mary Delvina Duffy. Both of Mary’s parents were French Canadian and Cayuse métis; her grandfathers and great-grandfathers were Quebecois.

Mr. Sam’s great-great-great grandfather, Matthieu Dauphin (later Americanized to Duffy) came to Frenchtown in 1838 and married Suzanne Cayuse in 1840. Between 1842 and 1861 the couple had eight children and lived throughout the Oregon and Utah Territories. Suzanne and Mathieu were both Catholic, and Mathieu stood as godfather for the baptism of the Cayuse Five, who were killed in retaliation for the 1847 Whitman killings. Mathieu also served as interpreter and witness at the 1855 Treaty Council of Walla Walla.

Jean-Baptiste Duffy (son of Mathieu and Suzanne and Mr Sam’s great-great grandfather) was born in Frenchtown, as was his future wife, Sarah Clara Bonifer. Sarah Clara’s father was French Canadian Louis Napoleon Bonifer; her mother was Marguerite LaRoque, métis daughter of Marianne Cayuse and Joseph LaRoque, who built the first Frenchtown cabin around 1824.

Like many mixed race descendants of Frenchtown, Marguerite, Sarah Clara, and Jean-Baptiste would all receive allotments on the Umatilla reservation. In fact, family lore tells us that after allotment, more French-speaking people lived on the reservation than in Frenchtown.

We wish Mr. Sams the best in his new role, and look forward to his confirmation as the next director of the National Park Service.


Cousins Connect

Tune in to Zoom, Tuesday, November 30 at 11 am to learn family history right along with Toni Jones as she hears it for the first time from Sam Pambrun, FHF past board member and historian extraordinaire. 

Family lines for Dauphin, Pambrun, and more will be explored. Sam has written over 300 articles on our area’s inhabitants.

Let Toni know if you have any questions you’d like her to ask!


Blue Mountain Community Foundation Valley Giving Guide 2021 to launch Nov 30

Did you know?  Frenchtown Historical Foundation is participating in the 2021 Blue Mountain Community Foundation Valley Giving Guide. In 2020, BMCF provided area non-profits with more than $4.2 Million in Covid-19 relief through matching funds donations. 

Your online gift to the Frenchtown Historical Foundation through this campaign makes us eligible for additional funds from BMCF–and you might win a prize as well!

The Walla Walla area non-profit with the most donations on Tuesday, November 30 (the same day as our web event with Toni and Sam!) will receive extra match dollars.

What could we do with the funds? If you’ve been out to the site lately, you may have noticed the posters are faded. We need funds to replace posters and signs. Insurance for the site costs nearly $2,000, and allows us to stay open and free to the public year round. Our miracle goats cost even more, and do the work that our hands can no longer manage.


Coming soon:

Drawing for Pambrun Chrysologue Wine

Latest on the Gift Giving Campaign – Special Contest Days

Planting Seeds

La boîte à recettes: Traditional French Canadian and métis recipes


This newsletter brought to you by…

Sarah Hurlburt, Professor of French, Whitman College, hurlbuse@whitman.edu, 509-540-4398

Toni Jones, Frenchtown Descendant, Pambrun/Dauphin, tmjgr1888@gmail.com, 541-786-3967