painted by Frances Hopkins in 1869.
Jean Nicolet de Belleborne... is as much a Wisconsin hero as an early Canadian explorer. Born in Cherbourg, a port in Normandy, around 1598, he was the son of a messenger ordinaire of the King (or a king's postal courier) between Paris and Cherbourg, France.
Jean Nicolet arrived in Canada in 1618 when he was about 20 years old, one of four brothers who emigrated to New France. At that time, he was in the service of the Compagnie des Marchands de Rouen et de Saint-Malo (a company of merchants from Rouen and Saint Malo), a trading monopoly owned by members of the French aristocracy. He came as a clerk and to train as an interpreter. He was intended to live among the Indian allies in order to learn their language and customs and explore the regions they inhabited. Nothing is known of his education or temperament, except this remark of Father Vimont in 1643: “his disposition and his excellent memory led one to expect worthwhile things of him.”
Nicolet set off to the Algonquin country where he was to live for two years. He spent 15 years of his life in Canada paddling over lakes and along rivers. Around 1628, he had a daughter with a Nipissing Indian. This girl, called Madeleine Euphrasie, is an ancestor in the Cameron line. When New France was occupied by Lewis Kirke from 1629 to 1632, Jean Nicolet fled into the safety of the Huron country. From his position there, he worked to thwarth any fur trading with the British, and was successful.
In 1634, he explored the Wisconsin region. When he returned to Québec in 1635, he was directed back to the Nipissing area where he spent more than eight years among the Nipissing, running a store and trading with the various indigeneous people of the area.
Although Jean Nicolet married a French woman, Marguerite Couillard, he kept his metis daughter under his care. With Marguerite Couillard, Nicolet had two children, a son Ignace born in 1640 and a daughter, Marguerite born in 1642.
Jean Nicolet, considered a great explorer in America and the first to mediate among the native population, drowned in 1642 when the shallop he was riding in with his brother capsized in a treacherous breeze while going from Québec to Sillery. His brother Étienne died also.
The year after her father's death, Euphrasie Nicolet married Jean LeBlanc in Québec.
JEAN NICOLET and a native NIPISSING woman
Euphrasie Madeleine NICOLET and Jean LeBLANC, m 11-21-1643 in Québec
Madeleine LeBLANC and Jean PICHET, m. 1666 in PQ
Marie-Madeleine PICHET and Gabriel GOSSELIN, m. 4-13-1692 in PQ
Jean GOSSELIN and Thérèse DUPILLE, m. 2-17-1721 at St. Pierre, Ile d'Orleans, PQ
Marie-Thérèse GOSSELIN and Jean-Baptiste FOURNIER, m. 10-22-1742 in Beaumont, PQ
Jean-François FOURNIER and Thérèse COUTURE, m. 1-30-1769 in St. Michel, PQ
Louis FOURNIER and Marguerite DION, m. 1-25-1803 in St. Michel, PQ
Marguerite FOURNIER and Étienne CAMPAGNA, m. 1-9-1826 in Bellechasse, PQ
Caroline CAMPAGNA and Zoël TURCOTTE, m. 6-22-1852 in St. Norbert, PQ
Léonise TURCOTTE and Napoléon DARGIE, m. 10-15-1883 in Lewiston, ME
Delia DARGIE and Wilfred CAMERON, m. 10-11-1910 in Attleboro, MA
Rhea CAMERON and Edward LIZOTTE, m. 6-20-1936 in Attleboro, MA