A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

William Smith, son of Louis Smith – Caughnawaga Entertainer

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to a new guest author – American family historian Melody Morgan.  As you will read below, Melody has a connection to Kahnawake through her beloved step-father William Smith, son of Mohawk entertainer – Louis Smith. She spins her tale below, and ends with a request for anyone with information about this family to contact her. You can do so by leaving a message in the comment box below, and I will send you her email information. Thanks!


Guest Post by Melody Morgan

William Smith

When I was a young woman, my father died and my mother remarried.  My new step-father was William Smith and he used to tell marvelous stories about his parents – mostly his father, Louis Smith.

Bill would proudly boast that Louis Smith was an Iroquois Indian from Caughnawaga.  He was very proud of this heritage and he wore the genes of this heritage like a badge . There was no mistaking his Native origins. Unfortunately, Bill died about 20 years ago, before I became interested in genealogy.  I never asked him the questions I should have. Now I search for the facts necessary to make a place for him and his ancestors in our family tree.

I know a little about William’s mother. She had been ill with tuberculosis for many years and was in and out of hospitals and tucked away in sun porches for healing air.  She died when he was only 10 years old so I don’t think he had many real memories of her at all. His mother’s name was Terese Kaherotonkwas. She was apparently a performer too and used  the name Weeping Corn Husk.

Louis Smith of Kahnawake

I have managed to uncover a few facts about Louis Smith, which led to a few more facts, but I don’t even know the details of the accident that took his life or where he is buried.  I cannot confirm his possibly German father or his Native mother, don’t know when they died or where they are buried and am not sure where else to turn.

Fortunately, several stories of the Canadian Mohawk and Iroquois who performed in Vaudeville or traveling shows have turned up on the internet so I have learned quite a bit about Louis’ associates and the life they lived. There are stories and photographs on the web about both of the witnesses at his marriage.  It is quite a fascinating time in history.  Below is a summary of what I know about Louis Smith.  I have also attached a piece from the 1897 New York Times which tells a bit about him and shows his picture.

*  1881 – Canadian Census – LaPrairie, Sault St. Louis – child Louis Smith living with mother Felicite Kaerotonkwas

*  1897 – Louis Smith married Annie Braden in New York City – indicates he is Indian born in New York – father Louis Schmidt – mother Teresa Kaherotonkwas – witnesses Dr. Hartley Snow and Susan Dibeaux

*  1899 – The New York Times reports that White Moon, Little Thunder and Eagle were treated badly while performing in Puerto Rico

Caughnawaga Indian

Excerpt: NY Times, 1897

*  1900 – United States Census – New York City – Louis indicates he is an actor born in New York

*  1910 – United States Census – New York City – Louis indicates he is an actor born in New York

*  1918 – World War I Draft Registration – New York City – Louis indicates he is a native born American who is a showman and wears heavy glasses

*  1920 – United States Census – Cranford, New Jersey – Louis indicates he is a traveling salesman for a drug company born in New York

*  1943 – March 27  Billboard Magazine says “Wigwamming from the Indian reserve at Caughnawaga, Que., Doc White Moon (Louis Smith) tells that altho his sight is failing he still enjoys The Billboard – would like to see pipes from any of his old friends of pitchdom”.

*  1947 – Sept. 17 issue of The Worcester Times of Worcester, New York:

William Smith and his daughter, Miss Mildred Coombs, left on Tuesday of last week for Montreal, Canada to attend the funeral of the former’s father, Louis Smith, who died the preceding day at the Indian Reservation, Caughnawaga.  The elder Mr. Smith was an Indian chief, whose tribal name was White Moon.”

And there my story ends … without really an ending at all.

Can anyone add to this story? Or confirm the parentage of  William or Louis Smith?

Or perhaps the burial spot of Louis Smith?

Related Posts:

Index: Kahnawa:ke & the Iroquois | QC/ON

March 6, 2011 - Posted by | . |

9 Comments »

  1. Hello, I’m the daughter of Mildred Coombs, William Smith’s step daughter, my nephew is doing a project for school on this particular Indian Tribe and I was sharing with him some of the things I’ve heard from my mom, as well as that he have historical pictures of my mom/William and Mildred my grandmother at the tribal location in Canada. My and my sister are very interested in talking to Melody Morgan. Please have her call me 505.453.2659.

    Like

    Comment by Maureen Manring | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • Hello. My great grandfather was Louis Smith and I have been trying to piece together the history of my family. My grand-daughter had a similar school project a couple of years ago and Melody Morgan was quite helpful. Please feel free to contact me at kwilliams@jaxlegalhelp.com.

      Like

      Comment by Kathleen Kelley | June 11, 2017 | Reply

    • I have never talked to you, Maureen Manning, but would like to do so. Please feel free to email me at: leddylanders@gmail.com I would love to hear your stories and see your pictures.

      Like

      Comment by Melody Morgan | January 16, 2019 | Reply

      • Hi Melody … it has been awhile since we last discussed our mutual family members. I am interested in learning anything new you may have discovered. When you have a spare minute, drop me a line!

        Like

        Comment by Kathleen Kelley | October 21, 2021 | Reply

        • Hey, there!
          I have learned absolutely nothing new but I keep watching.
          I know Louis died somewhere around there but can’t say where.
          I’m not sure what became of his mom either and am clueless about his dad.
          I still have the painting we talked about.
          It needs some repairs or cleaning but I keep it carefully wrapped.
          It should be in your family for sure.
          I will contact you outside this forum about getting it into your hands.

          I keep watching here but have learned nothing about Louis

          Like

          Comment by Melody Morgan Prehmus | October 26, 2021 | Reply

          • Hello Melody,
            It’s been quite awhile so I’m hazy on the details, but have you ever tried contacting the Kahnawake Cultural Centre – https://www.korkahnawake.org/museum-welcoming-center

            Like

            Comment by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault | October 27, 2021

          • I haven’t and i thank you for the idea. I’m going to try that.

            Like

            Comment by Melody Morgan | November 7, 2021

  2. My Grandfather was Louis Smith Also Known as Chief Whitemoon. My mothers mom was Anna Smith Married to Harold Neibanck. They were from the Perth Amboy area. Anna had two children before she passed away. Meredith and Robert. My uncle George told me that he was in a medicine show that traveled up and down the east coast of the united states. My mom told me he was Mohawk.adg es

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Irene Schurley | March 21, 2021 | Reply

    • Just saw your post …. would love to get more information. My mom (maiden name Joan Thompson) was the grand-daughter of Chief White Moon/Louis Smith. I have photographs of both he and Anna Braden Smith. I have tried to find out as much as I can but the information is limited. Please feel free to contact me. Thank you!

      Like

      Comment by Kathleen Kelley | October 21, 2021 | Reply


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