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.
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.
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.
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.
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.