One Man’s Genealogical Hunt: Sose Akwiranoron of Caughnawaga
Douglas 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?
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.