Category Archives: French

Chevalier Family, Part I

First things first…in the next several days I will address the comments and emails that have come in over the past week or so.  Thank you so much for reading the blog and participating! 


Recently there has been a lot of interest on the Chevalier family.  I thought this would be a good time to post a family history of one of the branches of the Chevalier family tree.  This appeared in the 1978 Clontarf Anniversary booklet.

Joseph Chevalier Family History

Great Grandfather of Vernon and Richard Chevalier

The Joseph Chevaliers originated in the Quebec Province of Canada and joined the oxen-drawn covered wagon train leaving Montreal for the United States.  The Joseph-Odeil Chevaliers had three children: Joseph, Nazareth (grandfather of Vernon and Richard), and Israel.

The covered wagon train came through Stillwater, Minneapolis, and then the Chevaliers homesteaded in Pope County, Minnesota – the community of Clonarf.

In 1898 Joseph asked his eldest son Joseph II to come with his family from Bathgate, North Dakota, to take over the farm.  Joseph had eight children at the time, and was to have six more children in Pope County.  That same year Joseph and Odeil Chevalier moved into Clontarf and lived across the street from St. Malachy Church.  Joseph died in 1904 and his wife in 1910.

Nazareth Chevalier, the second son of Joseph and Odeil, married Cecilia DeMars in 1877 while living in Clontarf.  They had seven children: Hedwidge (Charles Perrault), Sylvia (Oliver Goulet), Louis (Ervilla Goulet), Ida (Thomas Houde), Leah (Fred Martin), Richard, and Cleddy (Evelyn Reardon).

Louis Chevalier married Ervilla Goulet in 1917 and they had five children: Richard (Genevieve Bouta), Gordon (Mary Butler), Arlene (Herb Bly), Vernon (Donna Ascheman), and Ardella (James Geyer).

Richard and Genevieve married in 1946 and had three children: Carol married Dale Emmert (Brian, Paul, Angie Marie), Colleen married James Ninneman (Carrie), and Marilyn married Dan Thole (Melissa).

Arlene married Herb Bly in 1974 and they live in Pope County where Herb is a county commissioner and farms.

Vernon married Donna Ascheman in1960 and they have three children: Dennis, David, and Jo Ann Marie.

Vernon, Richard, Arlene, and their families attend St. Malachy Church, Clontarf.

This is just one branch of the Chevalier family  who made Clontarf and the Clontarf area home.

Remember Louie’s Rascals?  I know I have seen pictures of the group.  Maybe someone can send me one?



Filed under Early Settlers, Family Histories, French

I say Bouta, you say Boutain

And I think we are both saying the same thing: boe-tay.  I am not clear on who is who in the Bouta/Boutain family.  I read up on the families in the anniversary booklet from 1978, and I quickly became more confused than ever over the spelling.  For example, there is an entry on Edward Boutain, Sr. and his wife Belsimire Mercier.  Then the next entry is for Thomas Bouta, “the son of Edward Bouta and Belsimire Mercier…”

But we are going to begin with another Bouta history from the Clontarf anniversary book…

Thomas Bouta – Jane Clint Family History

Thomas Bouta (sometimes spelled Boutin) arrived in the Clontarf area from the Province of Quebec, Canada in 1870.  His coming here coincided with the completion of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad as far as Benson in that year.

Thomas married Jane Clint whose father was at one time foreman and later roadmaster of the Benson division of the railroad.  Thomas was foreman of the grading crew of the railroad and also helped construct the first section house in Clontarf.  A Catholic service was held in this section house in 1871 by a Father McDermott (no relation to the Dominic McDermotts).  The first child born to Thomas and Jane Bouta on July 10, 1876 was the first “Clontarf” child baptized in the DeGraff Catholic Church on July 28, 1876.  The church was then named Our Lady of Kildare (later to be changed to St. Bridget’s).  Margaret and Mrs. Oscar (Florence) Arne are the two remaining members of the Thomas and Jane Bouta Family.

Rose Bouta (a child of Thomas and Jane Bouta) married Edmund Columbe in 1898 and they had twelve children of whom five are still living viz. Edward, Rosella, Florence, Margaret who became Sister Wilma of the Order of St. Joseph, and Emma.

I wasn’t aware that there would have been a section house in Clontarf as early as 1871 – that’s even before Randall Station, the precursor to Clontarf, was established.

Just what I need, this story throws another spelling into the mix: Boutin!

I would love to hear any comments, insights, or anecdotes about the Bouta(in) names and families.  Please leave a comment!

Tomorrow we will look at the hotelier Edward Boutain, Sr.


Filed under Early Settlers, Family Histories, French

Just passing through…

At least one Frenchman other than Father Oster went to McDermott’s store…yesterday in 1885 (August 10th), Frank Goulet bought some tobacco and matches from Mr. McDermott.

I am sure I am just missing pages with other French shoppers since we were looking for Irish residents in our research and didn’t copy every page of the ledgers, however, Mr. Goulet is one of the first Frenchman I found.  My hunch is that the French-speaking residents of Clontarf may have done their regular business at another store.  Anyone have an idea where that might have been?

I wanted to include the Goulet family history here, but I couldn’t locate anything this far back, nor could I find a Frank Goulet.  Can anyone out there claim Frank Goulet as an ancestor?  I bet Anne can help us out with this one!  From what I can gather, the first Goulet to live in Clontarf was Ernest George (married Marie Boutain at St. Malachy’s in 1931), and he came from Hancock.

Later this week, maybe I will tackle the Boutain family…


Filed under French, McDermott's General Store

A Visit From Bishop Ireland

On October 27, 1880, Bishop John Ireland paid a visit to Clontarf to officiate over the first Confirmation class of St. Malachy’s.

Settlers had begun coming to the area in earnest only a year or two prior to Confirmation day, but already there were forty-two young people ready to be confirmed.  It is likely everyone in the Clontarf area was excited for this visit from Bishop Ireland, and I bet they had a full house for the service.

There were twenty-one girls and twenty-one boys.  I wonder how that worked out?  Do you think Father Oster told William Bedard to bring along his little brother Albert so they would have equal numbers of boys and girls?  I picture them processing into St. Malachy’s in boy-girl pairs.

Most of the family names that appear on the list are of the French and Irish settlers in Clontarf and Tara townships.  A few of the young people came from surrounding areas that did not yet have a Catholic church.  For instance, there is James and Mary Boisvin. 

I recalled reading the story of a French-Canadian family who, shortly after settling in Marysland Township (south of Clontarf and Tara), changed their name to reflect the English translation of their French name.  The translation was DrinkwineBoisvin would translate to Drinkwine – the family from Marysland.  Maybe the family had not yet changed the name, or Father Oster wrote the correct name since he was French.

From the families that we have already mentioned here, Jane Kenna and Mary Ann Purcell were confirmed on October 27, 1880.  Also confirmed th day were William Shinnick, Matthew Ledwidge, Zelina and Albert Coti, and Theresa Fisher (among others).

Care to guess the most common confirmation name chosen by the young ladies of St. Malachy’s?  Add a comment with your answer.

I am starting a new contest (and this time I will actually declare a winner and send that winner a very special Clontarf prize!)  For the remainder of the month of July, for every comment you make on the blog you will be entered in a drawing for a Clontarf Prairie Pub t-shirt.  It does have to be an actual comment, but it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate…simply I grew up in Clontarf! or I like this post! or Where’s Clontarf?  will be enough to get your name in the drawing.  I will announce the winner by August 2nd.

Build your entries, leave a comment! Just click the Leave a Comment link at the bottom right of each post.

By the way, if you are curious as to whether or not an ancestor of yours was confirmed on October 27, 1880, just ask me and I will be happy to check!


Filed under Early Settlers, French, Irish

Daniel Family: Pioneer Clontarf Settlers

The Daniel family is an example of the settlers who came to Clontarf before the railroad and before it was even Clontarf.  These families were truly pioneers.

This entry in the Swift County History book has an interesting bit at the end.  I wonder if the French-speaking residents of Clontarf would travel to Benson to hear these sermons on Sundays? 

Isadore and Celemia Daniel

Isadore Daniel and his wife, Celemia arrived in the Clontarf area by oxcart in 1870 having moved here from Waverly, Minnesota, where many French-Canadians had settled earlier.  Homesteading on a farm in Hoff Township, Isadore and his wife would trade farm commodities such as eggs and milk for moccasins and beadwork made by the Indian families living along the Chippewa River.  Isadore and Celemia Daniel had eight children: Joseph, Elisabeth, Rosalie, Helen, Delma, Eugene, John, and Mena.  John married Clara Chevalier.

John and Clara Daniel had a daughter Adrance, who married George Gilbertson.  George and Adrance farmed in Hoff Township and in 1950 they opened the Clontarf Club which they operated for ten years.  The Clontarf Club is still in existence (in 1979).

It might be mentioned that the original members of the family of Isadore and Celemia, along with the many French-Canadians who moved into this area in the 1870’s were French-speaking.  For that reason the first priest in Clontarf in 1878 was also French in background, Father Oster, and when the first church was built in Benson by Father Oster in 1881, the sermons were principally in French.

I  bet Anne might have a few things to add about the Daniel family history…

And if you have anything to contribute, please comment on this post!


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers, Family Histories, French