Ancestral Reflections

I think that we’ve put to bed the immediate ancestral search. At the very least the fervor of the chase has dulled considerably and now we move on to filling in the family lineage as we can, or as the mood strikes.

Alison worked her butt off getting the majority of the lineage in place on a family tree. Even after my last post, that one where I reflected on the cad that was my maternal grandfather, she managed to reach the 1500’s and some Dutch ancestors. Their records show that they arrived at some point during early colonization in America.

We seem to have run into quite a few members, both contemporary and in the recent past, who were married a number of times. I guess those are the little inconsequential aspects of family life that don’t really get shared with a child as they are growing up. What’s in the past stays put because it really is unnecessary to a kids worldview at the time. Many of those marriages also resulted in children, some who would be fairly close cousins to me, but that I had no idea existed.

And, a point of clarification from a previous post, only because I think this bit of news is really rather important from the standpoint of women’s history.

I mentioned that a great+ grandfather – Sabrevoir De Carrie -on my maternal side had married a high ranking female in the Winnebago tribe settled in Wisconsin. I thought originally that she was the daughter of a chief and that is why she refused to leave with great+ grandpa De Carrie for Canada. Well, Alison confirmed for me that this woman, Hopokoekau (Glory of the Morning) was not simply a princess. She was THE chief. Now that absolutely ROCKS to know that I have a great+ grandma who was the chief of an entire tribe. Here’s a picture of her, along with some info Alison found:


From the Wisconsin Historical Society website:

Ho-poe-kaw, or Glory of the Morning, was the first woman described in the textual record of Wisconsin.

The last known Ho-Chunk female chief, Ho-poe-kaw was chosen to lead her people around 1727, when she was 18.

The following year she married Sabrevoir Descaris, a French officer who resigned his commission to become a fur trader. At the time, the French and their Indian trading partners were harassed by the Meskwaki, or Fox, Indians, who commanded strategic points on the Fox River, demanding tribute from everyone who passed. Under Ho-poe-kaw’s leadership, the Ho-Chunk sided with the French against the Meskwaki in several battles during the 1730s and 1740s.

After seven years of marriage and three children, Ho-poe-kaw and her sons were abandoned by her French husband. He left Wisconsin to re-enlist and took their only daughter. In 1760 he died of wounds suffered in battle at Quebec.

While Descaris himself became but a footnote to family history, other family members became famous bearing an alternate form of his name, Decorah.

Ho-poe-kaw continued to lead her people, though how long is unknown. English traveler Jonathan Carver visited her in 1766 at modern-day Neenah-Menasha and left an account of her in his book.

She was never reunited with her daughter, who lived among whites in Quebec and eventually married a trader in Montreal. Ho-poe-kaw’s two sons succeeded her as chiefs of a Ho-Chunk village near Portage that later became a town called Dekorra. One son signed the first peace treaty with the U.S. in 1816, shortly before he died.




5 thoughts on “Ancestral Reflections”

  1. whoot whoot! That IS exciting! Side note- We live not too far from the town of Decorah.. I really need to get serious about digging into our family tree again. I started, but dropped the ball again last Fall. The fact you guys can go back that far in time, is so exciting. My roots on my dad’s side are from the area of Germany called Ostfriestland (the Free Land) I’ve only gone back to the late 1800’s, so have some catching up to do. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote on the topic a few years ago if you’re interested :

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I second the cheers DM, and think that all this is pretty darn amazing. Alison and I continue to follow the info so it will be fun to see what else turns up, and how ironic that you know Decorah. There’s lots of German on my husbands side, and some in my family, but honestly it has been a learning process just trying to follow this growing family tree. It’s difficult to stay focused on who everyone is and/or belongs with, then trying to add into all that research on where they come from can be overwhelming so I can understand stepping away at times. You have to have a life as well 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Also, just now read your link and I am certain that having those peasant roots is a plus. Highbrow society is overrated in my opinion although I wonder if I would feel differently if I discover noble ancestry down the line…probably not. Simple and hard-working seems to fit my personality better.


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