It’s A Fort, How Could We Miss It?

That is me on the left and Carl Gonya on the right, with our tourist map. We each had a different thought on where we were. I am sure the map was not done to scale.

That is me on the left and Carl Gonya on the right, with our tourist map. We each had a different thought on where we were. I am sure the map was not done to scale.

 

It is very unlikely that Francois Monty my wife’s 4th great grandfather or Joseph Bonnett my 5th great grandfather had ever met, but they sure did cover the same ground. In fact, it could be said that they had perhaps the most defining experiences of their life in and around the same place. That place was Fort Chambly located in the province of Quebec, Canada. This meant that a genealogy road trip was in order. My wife, granddaughter, and I headed to Point Au Roche, New York which is just outside of Plattsburgh, New York. We have relatives who live there and timed the trip so we could meet up with my wife’s cousin Carl. Carl is the keeper of family history and chief historian. From here it is just a short easy drive (in theory) to Fort Chambly. One border guard who could not understand why we wanted to go to Fort Chambly (“it is too small”) and not Montreal, one stop at a Canadian post office (I also collect stamps), one bee sting (my wife), and having to turn the car around many times as we got lost, made this a not so easy drive. But we did finally arrive at the fort.

The outside of the fort. The fort is restored to look as it did in 1750.

The outside of the fort. The fort is restored to look as it did in 1750.

Inside the fort. Hard to see here but they left markings of the footprint of the previous wooden forts on this site. They did a great job restoring the fort to it's appearance in 1750.

Inside the fort. Hard to see here but they left markings of the footprint of the previous wooden forts on this site. They did a great job restoring the fort to it’s appearance in 1750.

Fort Chambly was first named Fort Saint-Louis which was a wooden fort, and its construction was overseen by Jacques de Chambly, who was an officer of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment. It was built for protection from the Iroquois and as a staging area for invasions into Iroquois territory. Fort Chambly was part of a string of five forts and over 1,200 soldiers that Louis XIV sent to Canada. In 1709 Governor Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, concerned about a British Invasion ordered that a stone fort was to be built. The fort has been restored to its 1750 appearance which is how Joseph Bonnett would have viewed it.

A picture of Louis XIV, who had the forts built and sent men to Canada. I am glad he did. His decision  in 1666 made it possible to meet my wife.

A picture of Louis XIV, who had the forts built and sent men to Canada. I am glad he did. His decision in 1666 made it possible to meet my wife.

 

This is also very much like the fort that Jean Monty a Marine private sent to Fort Chambly from France would live in and around from about 1727 until his death in 1755.  Jean Monty, would father at least 14 children one of them being Francois Monty born in 1736. Francois would marry Josette/Marie Bergevin, and they would have at least 16 children. While Jean Monty did buy some land, he stayed in the military and is believed that he and his family lived inside the fort. We have no record that he ever built a house or homesteaded on his land. By this time in his life, the troops stationed at the fort were small in number, and he had achieved the rank of sergeant. Evidence shows that Jean Monty was held in high regard. One example would be the naming of a street after him in Chambly in 1989 and also a street is named after his wife, Marie Marthe Poyer, at the same time.  Jean’s son Francois also was to be held in high regard but for a different reason. Fort Chambly was captured by American forces and briefly held from October of 1775 to the spring of 1776.  Francois joined the American army in 1775 and served in Col. James Livingston’s First Canadian Regiment until 1781 attaining the rank of 1st Lt.. Lt. Monty was to perform many duties in the service of his new country. Because of his contacts in Canada, he was sent there to obtain information on British forces and make contact with American Partisans in the Fort Chambly area. He was to be wounded in his left leg in the Battle of Quaker Hill on August 29, 1778. The wound was severe enough that he was awarded an invalid’s pension in 1794. Francois Monty also was to receive land about 1200 acres all in upstate N.Y. near Lake Champlain. He elected to sell all or most of this land. He settled in what was known as the Point Au Roche Patent adjoining what was to become known as Monty’s Bay, on Lake Champlain.

Left to right is Carl Gonya, my wife Sandra Lyon Moore, both are direct descendants of Jean and Francois Monty. Far right is our granddaughter Nicole who is a direct descendant of both the Monty and the Bonnett family line.

Outside Fort Chambly. Left to right is Carl Gonya, my wife Sandra  Moore, both are direct descendants of Jean and Francois Monty. Far right is our granddaughter Nicole who is a direct descendant of both the Monty and the Bonnett family line.

Joseph Bonnett’s time at Fort Chambly was less enjoyable than Monty’s family. Joseph appears as a Drummer of the 2nd Regiment of New York troops under the command of Col. Goose Van Schaick stationed at Fort Chambly, on Jan. 2, 1776.  Next records show he joined the military in Seth Warner’s Regiment with his residence listed as Brattleboro, Vermont. This group was known as the Green Mountain Boys or Troop. He was to take part in the Battle of Saratoga and served actively in the army until taken prisoner in the Lake George, N.Y. region on Oct. 11, 1780. I do not know exactly where but it was during the October 1780 British raid on Ballston, New York. Joseph was then marched about 180 miles to Fort Chambly where he was to remain a prisoner for the next 28 months. The British treatment of its prisoners was at best harsh, and I am sure that Joseph did very well to survive. In his papers, it states he was held for six months without relief in a dungeon. While touring the fort I asked about this. I was informed the fort had no dungeons but that most likely he was put into a munitions’ storage hole which would certainly seem like a dungeon. Joseph was finally exchanged as a prisoner of war in January of 1783. While the war ended in 1783 Joseph re-enlisted and we have service records for him into 1786. In June of 1783, Joseph was to receive a gift deed in Barnet, Vermont from Obediah Wells which read in part to ” adopted son Joseph Bonnett late of New York City.” I still do not know the exact relationship between these two men.  Joseph married Tamma Johnson about 1784, and they had at least seven children. Joseph was to spend the rest of his days living and raising his family in Vermont. He was placed on the pension roll in 1818. Joseph died in 1824.

I highly recommend that if possible you visit where your ancestors lived and worked. I could not help but feel the pull of past family history as I toured the fort. I will never fully understand the toil and sacrifice that was made by my ancestors just as generations into the future will not be fully able to understand our tribulations. But I do try, and I hope they will also try in the future to understand us.

Where my wife's ancestors owned land and farmed. All around Lake Champlain.

Where my wife’s ancestors owned land and farmed. All around Lake Champlain.

This is the view of Monty's Bay. We ate at a little ice cream shop / restaurant, and this was the view we had while we ate outdoors. This was taken when we got back from our trip to Fort Chambly just after the sun went down.

This is the view of Monty’s Bay. We ate at a little ice cream shop / restaurant, and this was the view we had while we ate outdoors. This was taken when we got back from our trip to Fort Chambly just after the sun went down.

If this were all that happened on our little genealogy road trip, it would have a very productive trip. However, Carl Gonya ( the family historian) had more surprises for us. He showed us many family heirlooms some that are that are well over 150 years old. Many pictures were taken of these items. Carl’s his gift of pictures in the hundreds many taken over 100 years ago all loaded on a flash drive was incredible. We also got scans of a family Bible that was printed in 1844. Just holding the bible itself was inspiring. We also took a few side trips into cemeteries which hold the grave sites of family members. So if you can, get up from your computers and take a genealogy road trip.

 

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40 Responses to It’s A Fort, How Could We Miss It?

  1. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Really enjoyed! We agree that road trips to see where your ancestors lived & work add much to the bare facts. Thanks again for sharing.

    • chmjr2 says:

      The fun we had on this trip was as if we spent a million dollars. I will have most post in the future showing some of the great family finds this trip gave us.

  2. I love genealogy road trips. Sounds like you had a most wonderful trip.

  3. Great post, great story, great road trip! Would love to see some of the pics you got too.

  4. KerryCan says:

    The whole story is fascinating but I especially like the part about Monty’s Bay since I live on its shores! The ice cream shop, The Happy Pike, is one of our favorite haunts. Your road trip was so productive!

    • chmjr2 says:

      What a great place the Happy Pike is. It was Carl’s idea to stop there to eat and I am glad we did. You are so lucky because I think you live in one of the most beautiful places on this earth. Perhaps the next time we are in the area we could all meet at the Happy Pike for a bite to eat.

  5. Amy says:

    What a fascinating family history. The Green Mountain Boys! I remember learning about them in school. And I don’t think I ever knew that American forces entered what is now Canada during the Revolutionary War.

    And I agree about visiting where your ancestors lived. I’ve now done it a few times, and each time I get goosebumps, imagining my ancestor looking down and thinking, “Wow, someone actually remembers me.”

    • chmjr2 says:

      I love history and that is what I mostly read. So it is a good thing my wife’s and my family gives me so much history. In truth when you realize what these people did it makes you feel small.

      • Amy says:

        Perhaps our descendants will say the same about us? Even if not, maybe they will be grateful that we found and preserved their history for them.

  6. Jim McKeever says:

    Great stuff, Charles. Every time I read one of your posts, I want to hop back on to ancestry.com and continue digging.

  7. oldendaysk says:

    Great post! What fun it is to walk the ground your ancestors did.

  8. What a wonderful and productive trip! 🙂

  9. Jan says:

    I so envy your access to such interesting family history places – to stand on the ground that they stood on must have been amazing. And those extra treasures the family historian had for you to see as well, fantastic.
    Most of the places I would love to visit are on the other side of the country (not so bad) or the other side of the world (not so good). But I live in hope that one day…

  10. chmjr2 says:

    I am lucky that I do have many places close to me. Many are just a days drive from where I live. Also I plan to show some of the ipictures I came home with.

  11. What a wonderful trip and story! I can hardly wait to hear more! You make me anxious to hit the road! I also love the feeling of walking where my ancestors walked! Thanks for the inspiration Charles!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thanks for your comments Helen. I like these types of trip and find them so much fun. I am lucky my wife does to. Also my granddaughter Nikki enjoys these outings. Perhaps she will be the one who will take up the title of Family Historian in the future.

  12. Sheryl says:

    Your field trip sounds wonderful. It’s so much fun to visit the locales where our ancestors lived.

  13. Great trip, and super pictures! Looks like a really great fort.

  14. GenPhotoGal - Family History Updates says:

    Very interesting story.

  15. agwilderman says:

    What a great trip. Those forts in Canada are hard to miss and so interesting. Thanks for dropping by my place and your comment. We have a mutual friend in Helen too.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. Helen is a great lady and she has given me much encouragement in writing my blog. I hope to read more of your blogs in the future.

  16. Goodness I just took a trip. Thanks for sharing

  17. Thanks for liking my post. I like yours too! I’ll soon publish a book about my Danish father and Ukrainian-Canadian mother, filled with stories I never knew until after I reached 70. I’ve done years of research, met my new Danish family on WordPress, they’ve done genealogy and included me on their photographic tour of my father’s island birthplace. I’ve met new cousins on both sides. I’m convinced some DNA filters through the generations.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am also working on a family book. How long did it take you to complete your book from start to finish. It seems like a long up hill climb. Also I agree DNA does filter through generations.

      • Thought I’d finished it in 2013. But I live on East Coast US 3000 miles from Seattle, so I’ve found wonderful Seattle help. The book is much improved and more accurate now, but it won’t be published until probably first half of 2017. For me it has taken patience, but is also a wonderful learning process.

  18. Pamela Morse says:

    The family trips are a a blast. I have done two, hope to do more in the future

  19. Marie Rogers says:

    I well understand the pull of family history. My great-great grandfather fought in the 1865 Battle of Wyse Fork in NC. It was such a thrill to take the driving tour of the battleground area and follow his unit’s movements.

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