The French built two forts along the three rivers with the last one built in 1750. See our Forts of Fort Wayne page for more information. Some researchers have reported finding historical information in French records in Canadian archives. Obviously such records would be written in French and would not mention Allen County which did not exist until 1824. The French and Irish controlled St. Augustine’s Catholic Church (today the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception).
The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana French Collection includes:
- French Families of Allen County, Indiana: Compendium is part of the French Families of Allen County, Indiana it states:
These volumes, totaling more than 18,000 pages, were compiled by Martine Copeland and generously donated to The Genealogy Center. Ms. Copeland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, for any further inquiry or information needed.
- Besancon Historical Society Collection includes
- Photo Index
- Photo Collection
- Alfred B. Rondot Collection with 79 volumes. We have a little more on Alfred B. Rondot on our People page.
BESANCON HISTORICAL SOCIETY website at ACGSI.org states:
The French American Society was established in 1903 in Allen County, Indiana. Their meeting place was the Joseph Langard Saloon on the corner of Barr and Columbia Streets in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The society had about 600 members and dues were reported to be one dollar per year. An annual picnic was held at the Centlivre Park that drew over 6000 people. An annual dance was held at Minuet Hall. At the time of WW I the name of the society was changed to "Lafayette Legion." Death benefits of $200 were paid to the estate of members as late as 1947 even though the society disbanded about 1923.
The Indiana State Library has a page Selected French Genealogical Resources These resources are general in scope, but there are many more resources in the Genealogy Division that focus on specific counties, cities, and family lines. By searching for "France Genealogy" and "French Genealogy" in the OPAC as a subject or a keyword, you will find more sources like the ones listed below. Or, search for a specific surname or location as a subject to narrow down your results further. It includes the two ebooks posted above:
- 977.201 A425ban Banet, Charles Henry. French Immigrants in Allen County, IN 1850-1870. Rensselaer, IN: 1980. Compiled from the 1850-1870 Federal Censuses for Allen County, Indiana. Banet edited and annotated some of the surnames, using "current" family names when possible and noting anglicized names, such as White for Blanc. Provides names and ages of those in the household, occupation, place of birth, and source information.
- 977.201 A425ron Rondot, Alfred B. Place or Town Origin of Allen County, Indiana, French Surnames, 1800-1900, found in the Courchaton, Haute Saone, France Register 1670-1852. 1980. Rondot has taken surnames of French origin found in 19th century Allen County and connected them to surnames found in French registers from Courchaton during the 17th through the 19th century. He indicates a place of origin for each surname and sites various sources for his information (censuses, etc.).
The Alfred B. Rondot collection at The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana has 35 volumes of handwritten information including obituaries copied from local newspapers published in 1977 of French and Swiss family information for Allen County residents digitized on the Internet Archive. Four volumes, 30, 31, 35, 36, labeled obituaries are on our Obituaries page. New Free Database - French Families of Allen County, Indiana posted May 19, 2018 on the Genealogy Center Blog from The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana on the Internet Archive Wayback MachineEarly French influence in the territory that became Indiana posted September 8, 2018 on the Archives of Hoosier History Live podcast on Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM introduction starts with:
Indiana's French heritage isn't always as obvious as that of ethnic groups such as the Germans and Irish, who arrived in the Midwest in far larger numbers during the peak years of European immigration into Indiana in the the mid 1800s. Few if any areas of Indiana have a concentrated population that can boast of French ancestry, and French cultural centers akin to the Germanic Atheneum are few in number. Alas, aside from the annual French Market festival in Indianapolis, it can even be hard to find authentic French cuisine in the Hoosier capital.
How Did a 17th-Century French Sundial End Up Buried in a Field in Indiana? Curator Peggy Kidwell solves the mystery of a pocket sundial from the 1600s by Peggy Aldrich Kidwell and Sara J. Schechner published August 23rd, 2022 in Smithsonian Voices at Smithsonian Magazine.
Social Media Posts about French Heritage
1721 - Fabureau Fur Trading Contract -
Indiana Historical Society image
One of the earliest manuscripts in the library, this contract calls for trader Charles Fabereau to deliver supplies to Sieur Dumont, a French officer commanding the Miamis post (now Fort Wayne), and return to Montreal with Dumont's fur pelts to sell at a profit. The North American fur trade fulfilled Europe's thirst for beaver-felt hats and explorers quest for fame and fortune. French traders exchanged blankets, weapons, and gunpowder with Native Americans for furs and skins.Treasures from the Indiana Historical Society. Shared February 2, 2023 on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.
Did you know that Fort Wayne has French roots? French voyageurs were the first Europeans come to the Three Rivers region, drawn to this area by the abundant supply of furs, including fox and beaver. We have voyageur documents in our collection. One from 1719, an inventory and orders for Francois Roye to go to the Miami and trade, signed by Vincennes. Another document is a voyageur contract from 1720 to travel by canoe to go down and trade for furs among the Miami. As July 14th marks Bastille Day in France, officially known as “The National Celebration,” we commemorate our French heritage by sharing these voyageur documents and their translations.Copied from a July 14, 2018 post with photos of documents by the The History Centeron Facebook. One of the documents on the right side of image said they were to be deposited with the judge at Montreal, Canada and done in duplicate by the Notary or other trustworthy persons.
A November 12, 2020 post by the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution on Facebook:
The annual ceremony to honor Colonel De La Balme, a French Calvary officer who served during the American Revolution, was held in Whitley County at the site of the battle between his company of men and Chief Little Turtle and his Miami Warriors. This battle occurred around November, 1780.
Charlotte Blain, Indiana State Regent, introduced and thanked DAR, SAR, and C.A.R. members that were in attendance.
Mary Penrose Wayne Regent, Linda Stafford, placed a wreath for the Chapter.
Ghost Towns of Jefferson Township
Last month we had a presentation on ghost towns of southern Allen County. The following post contains highlights from the presentation regarding ghost towns in Jefferson Township.
* * * Jefferson Township has never attracted any large settlements, but on other other hand, it has never lost any settlements either. Besancon, Maples, and Zulu all still exist, while Nails, Dawkins, Oakton, and Tillman never developed past post office locations and railroad stations. Accordingly, this post will focus not on ghost towns, but on the "reduced" towns of Besancon, Maples, and Zulu.
Before talking about the towns themselves, it is perhaps worth mentioning some of the "firsts" of the township. The first tavern in Jefferson Township was built by Henry Castleman sometime around the year 1840. In addition to operating this inn, Castleman was quite a hunter, claiming 1,678 deer and 23 bears during his time in the township. Alanson Whitney opened the first store in 1850. Apparently realizing the wants of his clients, he opened his store with only a single barrel of whisky and a single keg of tobacco in stock, though he soon expanded into other necessities.
Around 1840, a group of French immigrants settled in the swampy center of Jefferson Township, forming a community known as "New France." In 1846, St. Louis Catholic Church was founded, and around 1870, the settlement gained the name "Besancon." St. Louis' current church was constructed in 1871, and was built around the original log church so that services could continue to be held during construction. To pay for this church, the parish came to an unusual arrangement: each family in the parish donated a calf, which they agreed to raise to the age of three years. These cattle were all then sold, raising $3,000 of the $10,000 needed to construct the new building. Originally constructed of brick, the church was covered in shamrock in 1923 to protect the deteriorating brick. Over the years, the parish also built a school, rectory, convent, and parish hall. In addition to the church, a public school was built in the settlement, together with a number of houses, a gas station, and a motel. Today, these structures all still stand, but the church is the only institution that remains open.
The town of Maples was platted in August 1853, named after Lewis S. Maples, who opened a sawmill in the area the year before. Thanks to the lumber industry, the town grew quickly, though it was beset by regular fires and rebuildings throughout its early years. By the early 1900s, the lumber was gone and the once-busy town settled into a quiet monotony. In 1917, the town boasted 200 inhabitants, a Methodist church, public school, physician, grain elevator, blacksmith shop, two general stores, and a tavern. Today, only the church and Maples Inn still remain in operation.
The last town to be founded was Zulu, which got its start around 1864. Never formally platted, Zulu was once a thriving trading center, with a sawmill, general store, dance hall, garage, gas station, and several taverns and restaurants.
Image 1—Jefferson Township plat map, 1917 Image 2—St. Louis, Besancon, interior, c. 1900 Image 3—Maples Station, 1888 Image 4—Maples Inn, unknown year Image 5—Charles Ternet Tavern, Zulu, unknown year Image 6—Basketball team on roller skates, Zulu Tavern and Dance Hall, c. 1934
- “French Migration to Allen County, Indiana with a Special Nod to Alsace”” Recorded November 10, 2021 – Free Genealogy Program posted November 30, 2021 by Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana on Facebook. “French Migration to Allen County, Indiana with a Special Nod to Alsace.” Recorded November 10, 2021. The area now known as Allen County has a long history of French explorers, traders, and settlers. Many of the county’s prominent families share in this French heritage. This presentation will share research into this segment of our county’s heritage. Martine Copeland, born and educated in France, came to the United States as a guest lecturer at the University of South Carolina. She later moved to New York City where she worked on Wall Street and as a real estate broker. Her research in Allen County was sparked by a surname found on a stained-glass window at Saint Louis Besancon Catholic Church. Martine has compiled a database of more than 30,000 people who immigrated from France to Allen County. This list may be viewed at: French Families of Allen County, Indiana: Compendium at The Genealogy Center » Free Databases » Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana Resources.
A December 2, 2021 post by The History Center on Facebook:
Alsace-Lorraine is a historical region, now called Alsace-Moselle, located in France. It was created in 1871 by the German Empire after seizing the region from the Second French Empire in the Franco-Prussian War and Treaty of Frankfurt. When created in 1871, the region was named the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine, as a new territory of the German Empire. Alsace-Lorraine was reverted to French ownership in 1918 as part of the Treaty of Versailles and Germany's defeat in World War I. Historically, the region was the world’s leading producer of tinsel, until the end of World War I. In the 1830s, a group of French families immigrated to the United States from the province of Alsace-Lorraine and eventually settled about six miles north of Fort Wayne in what is today Washington Township, Allen County. The region was known by various names, including “New France,” “Académie,” and “St. Vincent’s.” The Alsatian immigrants to Fort Wayne have had significant impact on the community. They have left the legacy of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Academy, Centlivre Brewery and the Schanz Photography Studio.
This is the December edition of the History Center’s new initiative, “Fabric of the Fort: Our Tapestry of Human Heritage,” which will explore and interpret the history of nine traditionally under-represented socio-cultural groups from our collective past through a series of nine monthly temporary displays and digital presentations from October 2021 to June 2022.
- Student project creates accessible database of Canada's first newspapers at U of T news at University of Toronto, Canada.
the bilingual project, “Early Modern Canadian Newspapers Online” is a collection of newspapers from the second half of the eighteenth century – from 1752 to 1810 – printed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Québec and Ontario. “There are libraries at other universities that have started some digitization of Canadian newspapers, but there are no other projects right now dedicated to early modern Canadian newspapers,” says Drouin, an expert in early modern clandestine literature and early modern journalism. “We’re very excited about giving access to documents that are almost impossible to find right now.”
February 11, 2023 post byHistoric 07 District - Fort Wayne on Facebook:
At the Oakdale Bridge and Broadway is 3518 Broadway, a beautiful building dating back to the 1910s.Fortunately for someone lucky enough to grab it, the building is for sale.Situated next to the 07 Pub and near the Clyde Theatre, this offers a perfect opportunity for someone to invest in Fort Wayne's hottest neighborhood.While this building is for sale, the story of it is pretty interesting, and it begins in France.Read on for more!
France, from 1789 (the French Revolution) to the late 1800s, was as unstable as it gets.To give you a flavor, here is an interesting quote."Every [French] head of state from 1814 to 1873 spent part of his life in exile.Every regime was the target of assassination attempts of a frequency that put Spanish and Russian politics in the shade.Even in peaceful times governments changed every few months. In less peaceful times, political deaths, imprisonments and deportations are literally incalculable."
In the 1850s and 1860s, life became more complicated for those living in Eastern France, including both the Pevert and Luc families. Not only had the Catholic Church been stripped of much of its power in 1789, but the region they lived in, Franche-Comté, was near the disputed territory of Alsace–Lorraine. At the time, Germany was unifying, becoming a much stronger power, and in 1871 created/seized this territory from France.This unrest caused the region's population to drop by 20% starting in 1851.The Pevert and Luc families needed a more stable country, eventually moving to rural Allen County.
The Pevert family settled near Arcola, and the Luc family settled near Monroeville in the 1850s.The paths of Naomi Luc and Frank Pevert must have crossed because Fort Wayne had a smaller French population at the time. In addition, as farmers, there is no question that the French farming community was connected.Naomi and Frank married in 1865 and made their home near Arcola.The French connection to the Catholic Church near Arcola existed in those early days as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, Rev. Julian Benoit, who was also French, began offering services to Catholics in the Arcola community.
Frank and Naomi tended to their farm of 100+ acres while having four children together.The four children were Felix, Joseph Louis, Alfred, and Eugenia.In 1917 or 1918, Alfred, who lived in Fort Wayne, went into the drugstore business.He was the founder of the Foster Park Drugstore located at 3518 Broadway.While the store began there, he eventually moved his drug shop further north on Broadway.Alfred continued in the drugstore business until he passed away in 1955.To see more pictures of this historic building, see the link below.
Historic Oakdale Neighborhood
Picture - 1923
Anthony REALTORS https://www.indianahomehub.com/.../IN/46807/136849359/...
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