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Letter to the Editor: The importance of family and family trees: your history

Dear Editor,

Researching your family tree can be challenging, especially if your ancestors were born Anishinabe. In 2009, however, four cousins of the second, third and fourth degrees who traced their families back to Polk County, Wisconsin discovered the reward of the search, when they found each other and their Ojibwa ancestors. Now they want to find more third and fourth cousins for a reunion of the family  It may not be as fun as a pow wow, but it will be a great gathering.

The effort began in the 1980’s when two second cousins started their search independent of each other. John (Jack) Hendry of Fridley, Minnesota used old notes taken during conversations with his father and grandparents to find Donita Robinson, formerly of St. Croix Falls, his second cousin once removed. Jack’s grandmother, Maud (John) Hendry of the Town of Eureka, and Donita’s great grandmother, Lucy (Will) Robinson, were the daughters of Madeline Nodin and Eli Tuttle of the Town of Eureka. Madeline Nodin, an Annishinabe, was born at La Pointe, Madeline Island in the 1830’s.

In 2009, their third cousin, James Tuttle of Duluth, and great grandson of Maud and Lucy’s brother Henry Tuttle, found the names and birth dates of Madeline’s parents.

Joseph Nodin and Angelique Ogagwedakwadokwe had seven daughters between 1824 and 1839, and the entire family was  baptized by Father Baraga.

Armed with this information, they found their fourth cousin, Lisa Krause, the great great great granddaughter of Catharine Nodin, who was the second oldest of the seven Nodin sisters.

Catharine married Alexander Bildeau who, in the 1860’s carried  the U.S. mail on his back between St. Croix Falls and Superior, Wisconsin - a 140 mile trek! Catharine and Alex raised their children Madeline (James) Steen, Harriet (Eben) Stone, Mary (John) McFaggen and Alex (Caroline Holmes)  Bildeau Jr. in St. Croix Falls and then Balsam Lake.

Lisa said 2010 will be better yet because they want to find many of Joseph and Angelique Nodin’s descendants when we  gather to celebrate at the Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls on May 30th.

The families  they are trying to find are the descendants of the Madeline and Eli’s sixth child, Cynthia Barnett and the descendants of Joseph and Angelique’s oldest daughter, Theresse Nodin, who married Georgius Millette    They have little information about two of Nodin’s daughters, Julia and Caroline, who also went by the last name Wind, but they hope to find their descendants too.

Theresse and George Millette were living in Pokegema, Wisconsin in 1860 with their children, Harriet, born about 1840, Domitelle and Angelique, born about 1842, Adelayde, born about 1847, Pierre, born about 1849, and George, born about 1850. The other Nodin daughters, Maria and Carolina, died young.

A potluck picnic reunion for descendants of Joseph Nodin and Angelique Ogagwedakwadokwe is planned for Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at Interstate Park, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. More information can be obtained by contacting Lisa Krause at 763-972-6593 or Dinita  O’Donnell at 608-829-2551.

My  cousin and I would also like to share our success with difficult-to-find records as encouragement to others.

Donita O’Donnell

Middleton, Wisconsin