Judy Fortney as Suzanne Cayuse

June 3, 2023 at the Frenchtown Site
Suzanne Cayuse hasn’t visited the Frenchtown site since before the pandemic. Join us on June 3 at 10:00 am to hear her great granddaughter, Judith Fortney, tell the story of her life. Hear Suzanne’s story and see documents and artifacts, visit the cemetery and discover the Prince’s cabin.  
Judy Fortney as Suzanne Cayuse
A History minute: Suzanne Cayuse  (c.1824-1876)
Suzanne (right) and daughter Catherine

Suzanne was born in Oregon territory around 1824. Little is known about her including her original Indian name, other than that she was a full-blooded Cayuse woman. She married French-Canadian Mathieu Dauphin (c.1816-1867) in 1840. Mathieu was born in St. Louis, Missouri when it was still a mostly French fur trade town, and travelled to Frenchtown in 1838 with several trappers.
Between 1842 and 1861 Suzanne and Mathieu had eight children and lived in at least four different places — Fort Hall, Utah Territory, the California gold fields in the Yuba River area, Marion County and then the adjacent Wasco County, and finally Frenchtown, where their last two children were born.

Like many Indian wives of French-Canadian men, Suzanne converted to Catholicism, and all her children were baptized and confirmed. Mathieu stood as godfather for the baptism of the Cayuse Five, who were executed in connection with the 1847 Whitman Mission incident. Mathieu also served as interpreter and witness at the 1855 Treaty Council of Walla Walla.
Mathieu died in 1867. In 1870, the title of their homestead went to Suzanne, who was listed as “Suzanne Dofa, widow of Mathieu Dofa.” Although widows could inherit homestead claims, Suzanne would normally have been excluded as a full-blooded Cayuse woman, suggesting that the Land Office  in Vancouver was not aware of her race.

Suzanne lived on the land in Frenchtown until her death on June 17, 1876, and was buried in St. Rose Cemetery. Her children married into the Gagnon, Woodward, Pambrun, and Bonifer Frenchtown families. Several of the Dauphin children (now Duffy) received allotments on the Umatilla Reservation.

Where did the beaver go ?

The beaver were the first natural resource to be claimed by European expansion. Without beaver, the fur traders would never have come to the Columbia district. Without fur traders, Frenchtown would never have happened. 

Between 1818 and 1848, the United States and Britain claimed joint custody of Oregon Country. In 1821 the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) of London bought out the North West Company of Montreal and was granted a monopoly to the North American British fur trade. The new HBC decided to effectively strip-mine the Snake River watershed of beaver to discourage the Americans from claiming the territory. HBC officials called for sustainable trapping of beaver in the north, and aggressive trapping in areas most likely to fall claim to the United States.

Americans practiced similarly competitive trapping in the region–Ogden’s HBC journals tell of changing paths to avoid rivers already emptied by American camps. In 1823-1824 the Snake Country Expedition yielded 4,500 beaver; ten years later, the annual yield for the same area was only 665.

“If properly managed no question exists that [the Snake Country] would yield handsome profits as we have convincing proof that the country is a rich preserve of Beaver and which for political reasons we should endeavor to destroy as fast as possible.”George Simpson, Fur Trade and Empire; George Simpson’s Journal, ed. Frederick Merk (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931), 46.

…as we cannot expect to have a more Southern boundary than the Columbia in any Treaty with the Americans (altho’ we are entitled to it from occupancy) it will be very desirable that the hunters should get as much out of the Snake Country as possible for the next few years.” HBC Governor and Committee, London, to John D. Cameron, July 22, 1824.

“From the Country we explored this year we obtained only 100 Beaver not from the want of Streams but there were none and the privations we endured were great, however we have the satisfaction to know that the South side of the South branch of the Columbia [the Snake river] has been examined and now ascertained to be destitute of Beaver.”Ogden to Governor Simpson, Burnt River 1 July 1826


Want to attend a meeting ? 

Hey, did you know that the bylaws of the Frenchtown Historical Foundation require that we publically advertise our meeting dates? Me neither! 

However, this seems like a great idea. Interested parties are invited to join us at the Fort Walla Walla conference room on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 1:30 pm. 

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

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

Frenchtown e-newsletter no. 1

We’re new to the online newsletter business, and we’d welcome your feedback. Let Toni Jones tmjgr1888@gmail.com know if you have comments or ideas. Stay tuned for tips about archives and exhibits, Frenchtown family histories, book reviews, and updates about the events and work of the Frenchtown Foundation.

In this Issue

La boîte à recettes: Tourtièr

Letter from a Newbie

Blue Mountain Community Foundation Matching Campaign

There are many ways to explore and experience the past. As the days get shorter, why not try cooking? Tourtière, or meat pie, is a traditional holiday dish in French Canada. Note the use of cinnamon and nutmeg, normally found only in sweet dishes in American cooking. This recipe makes two pies, one for you and one for your matante.*

I have prepared this dish twice now. The first time, I was so very surprised to love the cinnamon and savory mix. I made hand pies and shared with no one. Each day they tasted better. Then I made the large pie and decided I must share. Was I crazy to love this new flavor combination so much? Was it in my genetics to love it? My dinner guest, of non-French-Canadian descent, ate three helpings. Give it a try. I know I’ll be making more. 


  • 2 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 c cold water
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 c finely chopped celery
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried savory
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Pastry for two double-crust 9-inch pies
  • 1 egg, beaten


  • In a large, heavy frying pan, combine pork with cold water and heat to boiling point. It should be slightly soupy. 
  • Add onion, celery, pepper, bay leaf, savory, rosemary, nutmeg and cinnamon. 
  • Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 1 1/4 hours; stir often. Add more water if necessary to keep mixture moist. Halfway through cooking time, season with salt to taste.
  • Stir in rolled oats and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bay leaf and allow mixture to cool. Setting the entire pot in the snow bank speeds up this process!
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Line two 9-inch pie plates with pastry. When meat mixture is lukewarm, divide it evenly between the two pie shells.
  • Brush around outer edge of pastry with the beaten egg. Place top crust on the tart and press gently around the edge to seal. Trim pastry, crimp edges and cut steam vents in top crust. Decorate as desired.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and bake another 25 minutes or until crust is golden.

Nutrition: Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 353mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1.9mg

*matante: a Quebec term referring to an aunt or female relative.

Letter from a Newbie

Ancestry.com told me my great-great-great grandparents were Mathew and Suzanne Duffy. Frenchtownwa.org told me who they were.

Connecting with Frenchtown has led me to my cousins, Sam Pambrun and Judy Fortney. Judy told me my great grandfather, Treffle Sears, was called The Big Sioux, and Sam spent an entire day showing me many places where my ancestors lived their lives. He has shared dozens of amazing family stories with me. I have information and family beyond my wildest dreams. I am grateful for the many hours of toil, sweat and, no doubt, tears, that have gone into creating this tangible and intangible connection to our shared family histories.

When I read Sarah’s article in the last Frenchtown News newsletter about the challenges facing the foundation, I was very, very much caught off guard and very, very much saddened.

So, yes,, it would deeply matter to me if the Frenchtown Historical Foundation ceased to exist. It matters enough for me to donate my time to producing this newsletter, champion the cause for donations. and become an active member of this group who have accomplished so much in raising awareness of Frenchtown history and the contributions of our ancestors to our communities.

I look forward to many new friends and conversations.


Nov 30: Blue Mountain Community Foundation Matching Funds Campaign Launch

The Valley Giving Guide is a year-end fundraising event sponsored by the Blue Mountain Community Foundation to bring donations and attention to the many incredible non-profit organizations working in our region. This is the second year that the Frenchtown Historical Foundation has participated. Toni and Judy and Sarah have also benefited from free training sessions on marketing and campaign management for board members–another amazing benefit! 

We’ll be sharing more information about the campaign, and about prizes (a bottle of Pambrun Chrysologue) and raffles (an ivory Chief Joseph Pendleton blanket) you can win by participating.

Coming soon:

2021 Frenchtown Rendezvous Report

Chuck Sams III, Frenchtown descendant and nominee for Director of National Parks

Planting Seeds: native grasses at the Frenchtown site

Sneak Peek: Sam Pambrun and Toni Jones 

Next month’s recipe: Butter pie