Edited January 23, 2022, with updated information provided to me by a Lerat cousin.
Conducting research on my Indigenous ancestors has always posed a challenge for me. Limits to records—their availability, ease of access, and even their existence has made research much slower.
I’ve had very little success with Saskatchewan’s vital statistics records and hit or miss success with census records which have aided me the most in my research. Knowing very little about my Indigenous ancestors at the start of my genealogy journey meant I had to rely on what I could find but that means there are inaccuracies and mysteries abound.
This past year I decided to try searching Treaty annuity records to see if I can find more information on this part of my family. What a treasure trove! Although limited in their capacity, I discovered so much which hadn’t known before 2019.
Only a portion of Treaty annuity records have been digitized, from 1974 to 1909, and there is still leg-work required to go through the microfilm to locate the right reserve. As of January 23rd, 2022, I have created indexes to make less work for researchers.
It was by browsing through these records that I discovered Marie Adele Lerat (1888-1918) was not my grandfather’s biological mother, but his step-mother.
I’ve had a suspicion that this was the case but had no proof to confirm. It does account for the name changes in census records as well as for the gap between my grandfather Napoleon Pelletier (1905-1985) and his brother Robert Louis Pelletier (1915-2001).
The list of Treaty annuity list reels is here:
Here’s a blog post which identifies what Treaties and years are covered on each digitized reel:
https://www.dibaajimowin.com/tawnkiyash/treaty-annuity-paylists (dead link)
In the 1895, band member #46 of Cowessess, Hyacinth Pelletier (1849-1906) had a son who married the daughter of band member #13. At this time, Hyacinth and his wife drew an annuity payment. It also states that one grandson died sometime after the previous year’s payment.
The newly married couple would draw from #157. Here we see Joseph Pelletier (1876-1943) and an ‘unnamed’ wife. It’s unfortunate that many of the records at this time only record the name of the person collecting annuity on behalf of their family. The unnamed wife was Marie Caroline Aisaican (1878-1909).
Caroline’s (1878-1909) father was Aisaican (English=Clarified Maple Sugar) (1830-???) and her mother was Julie Sparvier (1848-???). In the 1905 census records I found the Aisaican family listed as Sparvier as well. Sparvier is also the surname used for Caroline in some of the Baptisms records.
In 1895, Aisaican (1830-???) had a wife, a son, and two daughters living on reserve with him. One of his sons, William Aisaican (1876-???), married the daughter of #126 and he also had one son who was living at Turtle Mountain. There were also a number of Pelletiers who traveled back and forth to Turtle Mountain.
In the 1901 census, Joseph (1876-1943) and Caroline (1878-1909) can be found living with two daughters: Marie Sarah (1897-???) and Marie Josephine (1899-1984). The family had already suffered the loss of two children, an unnamed boy who was born and died in 1896 and Mary Jane who was born and died in 1901.
It’s interesting to note that Caroline (1878-1909) is listed as Saulteaux while Joseph (1876-1843) is listed as French. In other records he’s listed as a ‘French-Breed’ and ‘Cree’. Further research informed me he is a descendent of a Red River Métis family, but that is a post for another day.
The family is found again in the 1906 records. This is the first record my grandfather is recorded in. It also lists his sisters Marie Sarah (1897-???), Marie Josephine (1899-1984), and Marie Louise (1903-1980). Too bad there is not much else recorded in this census.
Caroline’s death is recorded in the 1909 Treaty annuity list and in further research I found she died on January 25th, 1909. In this record, we see Joseph has one son and three daughters living on reserve with him. Additionally, there is a mark at the opposite end of the document which shows one woman died between the last annuity payment and this one.
Interestingly enough, Joseph (1876-1943) married Philomène Daniel (1888-1911) on July 20th, 1909, less than six months after Caroline’s death. There were four children who needed looking after, I imagine this played a part in the hasty marriage.
I learned the pair had a son on August 23rd, 1910, named J. Albert who died before his first birthday, on January 10th, 1911. Sadly, Philomène died only a few months later on June 28th, 1911. She lived long enough to be recorded in the 1911 census but I don’t have much information Philomène and must conduct more research.
The family can be found in the 1911 census records. All of Joseph’s children from his previous marriage can be found: Marie Sarah, Marie Josephine, Marie Louise, and Napoleon. Additionally, although the document states Hyacinth (1949-1906) is living with them, this is incorrect. Hyacinth died in 1906, this is recorded in the 1906 Treaty annuity payment list. Thus it is Julienne LaVallee (1853-???), his mother!
On April 22nd, 1912, after Philomène’s death, Joseph (1876-1911) married Marie Adele Lerat (1888-1918). I’ve identified four children by Adele: John (1913-1913), Robert Louis (1915-2001), Theresa Elizabeth (1916-2005), and J. Silvestre (1918-1918).
Adele (1888-1918) and family can be found in the 1916 census where only Robert (1915-2001) is listed with his mother and father. The other children are either at residential school or have married.
In 1918, Joseph lost both his son and his third wife on November 7th and November 10th, 1918, respectively. There are quite a number of individuals within my family living on Cowessess and Ochapowace who died during the height of the influenza pandemic. In fact, there are Indian Affairs reports which talk about the high number of deaths in the Crooked Lake Agency.
In the 1921 census, Joseph Pelletier (1876-1943) is listed with his children Marie Josephine (1899-1984), Marie Louise (1903-1980), Napoleon (1905-1985), Robert (1915-2001), and a new child born after the death of Adele (1888-1918). Her name was Marie Anne (1920-1999) and it appears she was the daughter of Marie Josephine (1899-1894) and James Atcikate (???-???). I must do further research on Marie’s father James as I have only found him in one document provided to me recently.
In the 1926 census, Joseph (1876-1942) and his new wife, Ernestina Chaboyer (1880-???) whom he married on December 16th, 1925, are living together. Also living with them is Napoleon (1905-1985) and Joseph’s mother, Julienne LaVallee (1853-???). The other children Robert (1915-2001) and Theresa (1916-2005) can be found at the Cowessess residential school. There is no mention of Marie Anne (1920-1999) who must also be at the residential school but as of January 2022 I have not found yet.
In a recent document that was provided to me, it appears Joseph (1876-1943) and Ernestina (1880-???) adopted a girl named Eva Patricia Ward (1930-???) who married Andrew Sparvier (???-???). This is new information as of January 2022 and which requires further research.
Joseph (1876-1943) passed away on September 23rd, 1943, in Broadview, Saskatchewan, and that is where my research ends for now.
In any case, this is just some of the information I have been able to unearth in the last year alone thanks to the Treaty annuity list as well as most recently with communications with other family members.