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. 


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,, 509-540-4398

Toni Jones, Frenchtown Descendant, Pambrun/Dauphin,, 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 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 told me my great-great-great grandparents were Mathew and Suzanne Duffy. 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 

Frenchtown Rendezvous 2021 is free!

The great outdoors is the best place to be in a pandemic. Rendezvous 2021 will be short, sweet, outdoors – and free!
It looked like Rendezvous 2021 was going to be yet another thing COVID took away. By midsummer it was clear that the pandemic wasn’t over, and wasn’t going to be over in time for an indoor event in September. So we’re switching things up a bit.For starters, we’re not going to charge any money.We’re also not going to serve food, so that’s probably a good thing.

Come out to the Frenchtown site to explore original and reproduction fur trade era artifacts presented by William McBean as played by Richard Monacelli. Bring your kids – they’ll get to handle the objects, ask questions and take pictures.

We’ll also be holding a silent auction–you can support Frenchtown and stock up your wine cellar at the same time! Wines by Dumas Station, Isenhower Cellars, Barons Winery, Pambrun wines, and many more. Please wear a mask in any situation where you are not able to practice social distancing.

When: September 25, 20212-4:30 pm (Silent Auction ends at 4:00)

Where?Frenchtown Historic Site8364 Old Highway 12, Walla Walla, WA