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The lingua franca of the North American Fur trade and the common parlance of many Native American tribes for two centuries before the coming of the Iron Horse was French Creole. Many documents of the fur trade era are written in an old style of French. Many words commonly used today, for instance camp or bayou or cache, illustrate some of the basic features of Creole ethnoculture as it developed in the old west. The many terms used to describe different features of forests, land, bodies of water, flora, fauna, boats, hides, food, cooking, tools, business and contracts, measure and exchange, classes and types of people, and Indian tribes provides clear ethnosemantic evidence of the strong focal orientation of the Creole French in the Indian trade.
Today, these terms constitutes to a way of life now passed and a bygone era of our collective history—a way of life that was as important and meaningful as any today. Many of these terms have entered American English, and thus represent a basic part of our frontier heritage and the cultural derivatives thereof. The transformations of, and additions to, word-stock caused by the finding of new animals, new trees, new plants, new breeds of human beings, new occupations and ways of life account for a great part of the differences between Standard French and the vocabulary used in the Mississippi Valley.
McDermott, 7 Creole French constituted a curious admixture of words borrowed from the Spanish cabresse [halter], marron [gone wild] , from Africa congo [creole dialect], gumbo [okra based dish] , and from the Native America kinikkinik [Indian tobacco], pirogue [dug-out canoe from Carib], parfleche [hide container]. Many words entered English either previously or subsequently to this period of time.
The definitions of these terms have been borrowed mostly from John F. One square arpent is equal to. An arpent de terre or arpent de face was a standard grant of land 1 X 40 arpents—a double grant was eighty arpents in depth. Commonly spelled arpen and found sometimes in old documents in English as arpend or even asperns. Equipped with both sail rigging and oars for river transport. Precursor of the Mountain-man. Women had equal status under this legal code in transactions, marriage, community property and inheritance. A standard term referring to the French Creoles.
Derived from the verb habiter to live, to dwell and habitation house. This term is found on standard contracts of engagement for fur-trading outfits. Officially valued at about 20 cents, five livres made one piastre.
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In reference to a trading mission a permanent log cabin or fortress for purpose of trading with the Indians. Noyer also had a more general connotation of wood and for different kinds of nut Trees such as pecan noyer amer or hickory-nut noyer dur, noyer blanc or white hickory, noyer rouge or red hickory. Oyez, Oyez : literally, hear ye, hear ye, a call to meeting commonly heard on wagon trains and trade caravans, mistakenly translated as Oh yes, Oh yes. Most commonly it was deer skins. It was preferred for long trips because it did not require cooking.
On the Missouri they averaged 15 to 20 feet in length, though some were quite large—larger ones even had masts and sails and could carry up to fifty tons of cargo. They had seats and were rowed—not paddled like a canoe. Sometimes two were planked together to form a kind of flat-boat. Literally it translates as savage or wild.
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The seigneurial system transplanted to New France was well developed, albeit fashioned to fit the frontier. I have taken the opportunity at this time to entirely rewrite my previous book Robidoux History that I had completed in the early summer of All Robidoux in North America have been the descendants of a single man and woman who married in Quebec in the year The Robidoux name has served as a clear indexical marker for historians and genealogists to follow. While the Robidoux surname as historical marker has made this research an interesting problem, the name itself, being of French origin, with three wobbly French vowels Mattes also created its own dilemma for research, as it has been altered in its pronunciation and spelling in so many different ways that the resulting record of coming and going by Robidoux descendants becomes at times very confusing.
Rarely was the Robidoux name been spelled correctly on official documents or in journal accounts, and often the same name was spelled multiple ways on the same document! The result has been an historical evolution of the surname on the North American continent with many variations of a standard form. Clyde Rabideau provided a fairly exhaustive list of variants of the Robidoux surname. An official account to Congress of those killed in the far West spells it Nolidoux. Other mispronunciations that have made their way into the record books are Thibbadeau, Troubadore and even Palliday.
The Grandfather of Bartlett Boder, a St. The original name Robidou was a perjorative diminutive form of Robert, a common French surname, and meant something like little Robert, traced to the 13th Century in Tintiniac, France. Any combination with the following alternative sequences of letters would be equivalent:.
The phonological general form would be: R- round long vowel -B- short flat vowel -D- round long vowel. Lewis, There are several closely spelled surnames which appear not to be related to the Robidoux surname.
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The first of these is Robichaux or some equivalent, in which the final d consonant has been replaced with a ch. A Robichaux for instance, was a signer of the U. Another spelling which indicates a different family line is that of Roberdeau or some equivalent thereof, in which a r has been inserted before the middle vowel. Though some Robidoux descendant may have had their names altered in this manner, the rule would indicate that the individual is most likely of a different lineage than that of the North American Robidoux.
It is known, for instance, that one Isaac Roberdeau came to North America with Lafayette during the Revolutionary war, and appears to have remained here in the service of the government as a geography and map-maker. As a Major in the first eight U. Topographical Engineers appointed in during the War of , Roberdeau remained on duty after the group was disbanded. He died in , but he was not directly related to the North American Robidoux.
Furthermore, some of the Robidoux kept, bought and sold slaves, both Indian and Black, and some of these slaves acquired the Robidoux surname. A clear instance of this is the St. Louis census of , in which there are three households listed with the surname Robidoux. The first is one of the Joseph circle, but there occur another listed under the category of Free colored composed of one male between 40 and 50 and four or five females.
A certain consistency in the alteration of the spelling of the name appeared in the genealogical record, tied to period and place, especially in relation to those branches of the lineage tree which are Latin or Native American. In general, certain documents or officials transcribed the name of the progenitor with a spelling modification, and this alteration remained transfixed for all subsequent descendants of this line, unless a further alteration occurred in subsequent records of descendants. The implicit linguistic rule in this regard is that once a name was changed and made fast in the record books, the spelling of the name will not reverse itself back to the original form.
This makes seem futile and somewhat misplaced the lamentable criticism of O. The correct way is Robidoux. The story of the Robidoux lineage in North America spans approximately years, and all of 13 generations.
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It is simply an alternative history of North. Robidoux players and actors have figured prominently in the foreground and background of many major episodes of the history of the Old West—often unbeknownst by the historians who attempted to document and narrate these events after the fact of their occurrence.
The Robidoux story continues to be told and to unfold today, albeit in different ways in times past. The story of the Robidoux does not belong to any one group of individuals. It is a part of a larger history of the United States and therefore belongs to all Americans who share in our rich cultural heritage.
The diagram on the following page traces the main lineage branch of this story, through the Joseph II and III line, down to the eighth generation descending.
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This diagram is largely conjectural, and it is not exhaustive, discounting many branches and lines. The unfortunate legacy of Robidoux studies has served to obscure the story more than promote it, and to perpetuate misinformation in lieu of serious scholarship. Much has permanently been lost in the process.
And yet there remains much more that can still be recovered with the proper work in the right places.
Related Robidoux Chronicles : French-Indian Ethnoculture of the Trans-Mississippi West
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