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

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