Sunday, August 10, 2008

Andre Jerome - First Settler, Kittson County MN

(The following article was published in the Centennial Edition of the Kittson County Enterprise in Hallock, Minnesota, on 29 June 1983)

Andre Jerome First Settler in the County

Was Picturesque Figure Of Mixed Blood and Hardy Stock; Suffered At Hands Of British For Activity As Aid Of Louis Riel - Rob't Thomson Second To Settle.

The country's history materially enriched by the story of Andre Jerome, it's first settler, mainly because his career contacts different phases of early history. In the first place, Jerome was a French-Cree mixed blood one of the Metis of the border country in the fur-trading period. Since he was the accused of participation in the first Riel rebellion his activities are woven into other chapters of the pioneer record. Andre Jerome, one of seven sturdy brothers of the Red river country, was born near Fort Garry in 1821. He traced his history back to the French Huguenots, his paternal grandfather having migrated from France early in the 19th century. The seven sons were endowed with the intelligence and courage of their French forbears and from their mother's people inherited splendid physiques, and the hardlihood and skill and cunning of the redman. Early they became coureurs de bois and voyageurs, performing the tasks which gave the great forests of the north a glamor that still envelopes it. The lives of these brothers were intigingly typical of the fur-trade era in the Red River valley, their antecedants, their activities and their manner of living were true to type.

Of Andrew Jerome, Mr. J. E. Bouvette wrote in the silver anniversary edition of the Enterprise in 1906 (the noted pioneer was still living then):

From this hardy and nomadic parents our subject inherited the characteristics which made him one of the most noted scoutes and voyageurs of his time. Though well up in years he is a man of able proportions and physique, is straight as the pathways he marked through the wilderness, has keen, expressive blue eyes which commonly hold a kindly sense of humor and good fellowship, but in anger are cold, stern and penetrating. The earlier part of his life he spent amid the influences of the forest and trail, and was for many years interested in scouting, carrying messages and pathfinding for the Hudson Bay company, Captain Hugh S. Donaldson and General H. H. Sibley, when the latter was agent for the American Fur company. When the Indian outbreak occurred in 1862 he proved of great value to the government, aiding in the suppression of the revolt.

Was Riel Aide

"He took an active part against the British government in the Riel rebellion and O'Donahue Fenian raid of 1869-70, and was imprisoned at Stony Mountain penitentiary in Manitoba, and was put through a sweat process by being bridled like a horse and obliged to break stone day and night to cause him to disclose the secret operations of his leaders, but his word was bond never to be broken and he stood his hardships and cruelties until finally liberated.

"He is as familiar with the leading Indian languages of this region as he is with the paths of the forest. The vast Northwest lay like a map before him and he knows every trail. It is doubtful if there is a human being who has passed through as many thrilling scenes and events of pioneer life as did Andre Jerome. He is an interesting conversationalist and can tell of some interesting buffalo hunts in the early days. Mr. Jerome settled on his present homestead (this county) 33 years ago last May. He married early a Miss Margaret Goslin and has a family of nine children, all of whom are living and are prominent farmers in this county."