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Louis Degonzague Watso / Otondosonne
Grand Chief & Indian Doctor

Created Nov-2000

Louis Watso - aka Louis Degonzague Otondosonne - aka Louis Joachim

Louis was born about 1787, the son of Joachim 'Swassin' Otondosonne and Marie Eulalie Gill. He is found in records as Louis Degonzague Otondosonne, Louis Joachim, and Louis Watso (several spellings). Louis' family was well known at Odanak with many of their vital records found in the local church registers. The family is believed to have come from the Saint-Hilaire region of the Richelieu River in Canada. Many family members lived for a time in the 1800s on the Durham Grant lands. He and many of his descendants are found in the Lake George Region of upstate New York. The name Watso (actually Wajo), means Mountain in the Abenaki language. At least one Watso descendant was known to use Mountain as a surname and lived at Greenville ME in the early 1900s. See CASE STUDY - CHIEF LOUIS WATSO for the details of how we reconstructed this family from vital records and various other documents.

In 1807, at the recorded age of 20, Louis married Marie Marguerite Taksus who was 17 years old. He had two known children by her; Marie Saraphine who was born in March of 1809 and Marie Anne born in September of 1810. Marie Marguerite Taksus died young and Louis remarried on 28-Nov-1814 to Marie Eunice Agent. She died in 1848. By his second wife, Louis had 4 known children; Jean Baptiste 'John' who was probably born in January of 1817, Suzanne born abt 1821, Simon born October 1822, and Joseph Louis born in June of 1825.

The Otondosonne family first shows up by name in Odanak records in 1803, when Louis' father, along with 16 other men, apply for a grant of land. The land was granted in 1805 and was located further up the St. Francois Riviére near what is Ulverton today. The grant is referred to as the Durham Land Grant. Joachim aka Swassin died in the fall of 1812 and was living in Bury Vermont at the time of his death. His widow was known as Molly Swassin and she died about 1843 at Durham. The Durham land granted to Otondosonne was passed on to his heirs.

Louis had a brother, Lazare, who was born about 1777 and died before October of 1811, leaving 3 young sons. Descendants of Lazare are the only ones to continue using the family name Otondosonne. Several of his descendants are found in Odanak records. It does not appear that any of this family lived on the Durham lands.

Louis had 4 sisters; Marie Alaine/Helene, Louise Catherine (1780-1843), Marie Anne, and Francoise Angelique 'Sally' born about 1795. Louise Catherine, was married in 1810 to Laurent Pakikan, an Algonquin and veteran of the War of 1812.

Marie Alaine, probably married a man named Joseph Louis in 1794 and had at least one child. She is found in Odanak census records as a widow with an adult granddaughter from 1841 to 1850. The census indicate the two women are living at Durham. By 1869, we learn that she is living in upstate New York with her brother Louis.

Marie Anne was married in 1813 to Joseph Thomas Capino, as his second wife. This couple had at least 1 daughter and three sons and all are found residing on the Durham lands in the 1840s and 50s. One of their sons, Francois de Sale, migrated with his family to Greenville, Maine where, in 1863, he was drafted into the Union army along with three of his sons. None of them returned home from the war.

Francoise Angelique, was also known as Sally Joachim. Sally married in 1812 to Francois de Sale Capino, the brother of her sister's husband. This family is also found residing at Durham. Both of the Capino men had inherited Durham lands from their father along with the land inherited by their wives. Sally cared for her aged mother, who died at Durham about 1843.

Louis Watso served in the British army in the War of 1812. Oral tradition says that all males of the village age 15 and up where drafted. His name is not found on the roster of veterans with heirs at Odanak in 1844, but we learn that he was wounded in the leg and did receive a pension for service in this war. He applied for the pension in 1875 at the reported age of 97. Based on the following news clipping, it seems the government was a little slow acting on his application.

Louis Watso, the Indian Chief, now over an hundred years of age, on Tuesday the 20th inst. received the first installment of a pension granted him by the Dominion of Canada for services rendered during the War of 1812 to 1815 under the British Flag.
- From Miss Hubbell's Scrap Book, Lake George Mirror, Lake George, NY April 22, 1880

Louis resided at Durham according to most records we find. Besides inheriting land there from his father, his wife also inherited Durham land from her father, Michel Pierre Agent. We also learn from the records that Louis was Grand Chief for several years in the 1840s. He is often found referred to as the 'old chief' in New York. He appears in Odanak census records from 1822 to 1852. In 1860, he is found in Caldwell NY (Lake George) census with several other family members. He lived on Sewell St. (an area also known as 'Virgin Hollow') with other Indian families. He appears in census, news clippings, and the folklore of the region from that time until his death somewhere around 1882.

Of the children by his first wife, Marie Anne may have died young for we find nothing more in records or oral tradition about her. Marie Saraphine was called Sophie and married in 1830 at L'Avenir (near the Durham lands) to Michel Denis-Paul. Sophie was widowed in 1831 about the time of the birth of her son Ambroise. She may be 'Sophie' that gifted a basket to Catherine Williams at Deerfield MA in September of 1837. She is with her grandmother at Odanak according to the 1841 census. In 1860, she is living with her brother, Louis, her son, Ambroise, and his young family in Caldwell NY. She never remarried, for we find she is still Mrs. Paul when caring for her father in 1882.

Louis' son, John (Jean Baptiste), married Marguerite Obomsawin and had at least 10 children born between 1838 and 1864. John died in 1868 at Odanak. The family were members of the Protestant Church at Odanak where most of their vital records are found. This family remained at Odanak where John is called a farmer from 1841 to 1861 and a hunter on the federal census in 1861. They appear to have also spent time at Durham, where one child's birth is recorded in 1842.

The son, Simon, is a little bit of a mystery according the vital records we have discovered. He is with his father in the 1841 and 1844 census. In the 1845, 1850, 1851, and 1852 census he is listed as a adult male living alone. Part of the time he is living at Durham. In Protestant church records, we find a child, Martha, born 16-Mar-1849 to Simon and Catherine Watso. We have not been able to locate any marriage record for Simon, nor have we located any death record for his spouse or child, yet he is alone again in the 1850 census.

The youngest son, Joseph Louis (called Louis), was married to a woman named Marie and had at least 3 daughters by this wife. He is found in the Odanak census from 1841 to 1852 and was living at Durham. About 1858, he moved to New York and about 1860 he married Alice Johnson. This family is in Minerva NY in 1892. Louis died about 1902. Alice was the daughter of John Johnson, a white man, and Alice Mitchell, an Abenaki woman.

Suzanne Watso married John Camp Jr. (1825-1914) about 1853. John was born in the U.S. but his family, or at least his mother, was from Odanak. John & Susan appear to be at Odanak from 1868 to 1873. On 3-May-1868, they are found baptizing 5 children (born 1855 to 1860 in the U.S.) in the Protestant Church at Odanak. Gordon Day mentions that he found John in an 1873 census at Odanak. From 1880 on, the family is found at Lake George and recorded as basket makers in census. A daughter of this couple, Marguerite, and her husband, Elijah Tahamont, used the stage name 'Dark Cloud' and worked in the entertainment industry.

In 1837, we catch a fascinating glimpse of the family of Louis. They were traveling through the New England country side and in August of that year the family was camped at Deerfield MA. The traveling family band consisted of about 25 members. (transcript of news clippings) It is stated they are from St. Francis and will travel home by way of Albany NY. By the time they return home they will have been absent about 1 year. A woman named Sophie [probably his daughter] traveled with the group and gifted Catherine Williams with a basket that still exists today. The matriarch of the group [perhaps Louis' mother-in-law] is reported to be 87 years old and claimed to be the grand daughter of Eunice Williams. Eunice was a famous captive taken from Deerfield in 1704. Eunice married an Indian and remained with her Native family for the rest of her life. The actual identity of this 1837 traveling family is determined through the mention of Louis Watso by name in a medical paper written by Dr. Stephen West Williams a few years later. Dr. Williams' paper informs us that Louis Watso is an Indian Doctor and that he had shared some of his knowledge of medicinal plants with Dr. Williams during an 1837 visit. Dr. Williams also tells us "When a company of Indians from Canada were in Deerfield, in the year 1837, I was much affected with palpitation of the heart, and they were much offended with me because I would not take one of their preparations which contained a large proportion of this snakeroot."

Was Louis a descendant of Eunice Williams? Perhaps - but it seems more likely that his wife, Marie Eunice Agent, is the Williams descendant in this family band. Louis does appear to be the great grandson of a pair of famous white captives at Odanak, Samuel/Joseph Gill and his wife Rosilie.

Researched by: Canyon Wolf for Ne-Do-Ba

Ne-Do-Ba Comment - - - Much of the information we have presented here is from formal records and documents. These things tell us very little about the man himself. It is only through the detective work of Marge Bruchac, that we have learned that old Louis was an herbal or Indian doctor. The records tell us nothing of this, nor of how he supported himself and family, about his personality, or of how many times he took his family on extended trips through the country side. Fortunately, we do learn a little more about Louis from the news clipping and miscellaneous items donated to Ne-Do-Ba by descendants and other researchers. Great Thanks to all of you. Perhaps there are even more pieces of the puzzle just waiting to be rediscovered. Let us know if you find any!!!

Learn More:
Lake George, NY
Deerfield, MA
John Camp Jr.
Elijah Tahamont