A Canadian Family

Genealogy and Vintage Postcards

One Man’s Genealogical Hunt: Sose Akwiranoron of Caughnawaga

Caughnawaga Performer, Native American, Hiawatha showsDouglas left a message recently requesting information about the parentage of  Sose Akwiranoron Beauvais, and I was curious as to the source of his “genealogical itch” . I’m sharing his story with you as I think it’s a great example of what I like to call “artefact-driven family research”. Perhaps his search will inspire you – who knows what stories might be lying around in your attic?

Evelyn,

This is the photograph my ancestors’ descendants had in their possession down in CT and NJ. Woodbine Township to be exact. The Woodward’s from Newark, Vermont –  they moved down to the Putnam/ Daysville, CT area sometime around the 1930’s I think (probably because of a lack of work here and the job market down there).

Anyway, I got a duplicate print and negative from the relative down that way, who stated that this was her ancestor Parker Preston Woodward who died around 1884/1887 “somewhere” (probably Fitch Bay, Quebec, Canada). Sure there had been “talk” in several different branches of the Woodward family descendants, but this photograph was a “find” . But almost immediately I said to myself: “something is ‘off’ about this picture”.

I showed it to Nancy Lecompte of Ne-do-ba and got her input on it. Knowing that it was  a studio photographic image, I began to look around. The clothing indicated he was “western” Indian yet knowing that many native folks here in the Eastern side did in fact wear this type of regalia, I figured if there was one image of him, there must be more “out there in the world” so I began to look for them. Eventually I realized he was on postcards, but still I had no name for him. No Community. No tribe. Not even a location of where the photograph could have been taken even.

Eventually, as I continued collecting images (ebay helped a lot) I began to figure out he was in Debarats, Ontario, and Petoskey, MI in a Hiawatha Drama/Play. Then one day I was up in Newport, Orleans County, VT and they had this Native Images book for sale and thumbing through it, there was a postcard of Mrs. Wigwas (Ojibway Squaw) and Daughter, Indian Village Earls Court, England.

Naturally, by then I could recognize the regalia from the persons associated around that time frame in the Hiawatha Passion Play. I was visiting my cousin and asked if I could immediately use her computer. I typed in Earl’s Court England and Indian. Out in Ohio I found a Postcard that was from this same Indian Village that read Onondaga Chief Sose Akwirranoron.

So NOW I finally had a NAME for the man in my families photograph. And I went online through the Mohawk language Message Boards and inquired as to the translation for this man’s name. What came back was that the name Akwiranoron means “Precious Tree” or “Valuable Tree” etc. So the next step I took was posting inquiries on Ancestry.com etc.

I got a reply back from a descendant of this man Lynn Beauvais who stated that her ancestor Joseph Beauvais aka Akwiranoron was not an Abenaki, but a Mohawk man from Caughnawaga (Kahnawa:ke) . So then I contacted the  Cultural Center   up there and they helped me ascertain his birth and death date and sent some pictures down of him on a CD. I was quite tickled to finally know who the man was in the picture that the Woodward’s had in their possession and confirm he was NOT a Woodward descendant etc.

But over the years, I have been continuing to collect images of him etc. I never could figure out his standard genealogical descent, such as who his mother and father or grandparents on each side were. Through working this project off and on I have learned quite a bit about Native Communities, and their struggles, individually and collectively speaking.

Kindly,

Douglas Buchholz

December 28, 2011 - Posted by | . | ,

7 Comments »

  1. is this the same man as Sose Kentaratiron (Joseph Beauvais). There is an image of him in Kahnawà: ke: Factionalism, Traditionalism, and Nationalism in a Mohawk Community by Gerald F. Reid. My great grandfather is Dominic Two Axe who was around during the same time in the Longhouse movement.

    Comment by Dan | April 25, 2012 | Reply

  2. I’d love to know the dob and death. I am looking into my ancestry and may have traced it back to the mohawks. Do you know if he ever married??

    Comment by Adrianna | April 26, 2012 | Reply

  3. The Joseph “Akwiranoron” Beauvais in the image (very likely created by Alfred S. Campbell in the early 1st decade of the 1900’s) I do not think is Sose Kentaratiron Beauvais. Akwiranoron’s parents were Pierre “Oniarakethe” Beauvais and Marie “Saionataien” Montour. Akwiranroron’s birth was April 20, 1872 in Caughnawaga and he was married to Marie “Ioriwiioston” Kelly on November 04 1890 in Caughnawaga. She died on November 09, 1910 and he died on March 04 1913 in Caughnawaga.

    This is as far as I have been able to find or have been kindly given about Sose Akwiranoron Beauvais. I respectfully thank Kahnawa:ke and others who have helped me discern this man’s life historical facts, and photographic materials. I would very much appreciate a photographic duplicate of this man in Mohawk regalia, since I have him in many “Western Indian” regalia types of presentation, but not in his traditional MOHAWK regalia.

    Comment by Douglas Lloyd Buchholz | May 30, 2012 | Reply

  4. I told you so…I would like copies of his photos…Lynn Beauvais

    Note from Evelyn: Lynn has been placed in direct contact with the person who can help her.

    Comment by lynn beauvais | October 19, 2012 | Reply

  5. Just a comment – perhaps this man was actually an actor portraying the Indian Chief, and that is why the postcard was made. Many American Indians are used by the film industry to portray early Native Americans, and also a lot of times they use the “western” garb disregarding the fact that eastern Indians dressed a lot differently. The move “Guns Along the Mohawk” shows more accurate depictions of the Mohawk costume.

    Comment by Helen Cawyer | January 17, 2014 | Reply

  6. Hi there! I realize these posts are old but hopefully I’ll get a response! I’ve been able to trace my family line to the Caughnawagas and have a variation of the the surname Bouvier. This man looks very similar to a photo of my grandmother’s brother and there is a story of an indian princess in our lineage. Can you tell me more about the photo? Thanks! Michelle

    Comment by Michelle | August 28, 2016 | Reply


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