This page part of the Walla Walla County AHGP Site
Copyright 2001
Janine M. Bork
 

Frenchtown

Having grown up in Walla Walla, I've always been intrigued with the two crosses that sit out in the middle of a field on the way into Walla Walla. They are a memorial to the St. Rose Cemetery in which 123 persons were buried. There is nothing left of the cemetery except the two crosses. The stone cross has the names of 23 families that were buried in the cemetery. There is also a marker on Highway 12 that says:
Here stood St. Rose Mission - 1850 - 1900. Land donation claim of Narcisse Reymond. Frenchtown cemetery on the hill

I find the Frenchtown community fascinating. Many of the residents were retired employees of the Hudson's Bay Co., and were French Canadians. Hence the name Frenchtown. The French Canadians had been living in the area 15 years before the Whitman's came to the area.
They were the first settlers in the Walla Walla area but only show up sporadically in the history of the county.

An article in the Union Bulletin March 30, 1947 states that the earliest person in the area was Joe LeBroque. He was a fur trapper and built a cabin in 1824. By the early 1830's there were others scattered throughout the area.

The French Canadians got along well with the Native Americans. They had a nomadic way of life as they trapped and intermarried into the tribes. Most were Catholic. After the Whitman massacre there were hard feelings by many against the Catholics. Many went back to Canada. After the Cayouse war in 1855, many of those who had stayed started taking up donation land claims and settled in the area now called Lowden. Although they had been in the area for years, this is probably the first "official" documentation of them being in the area. At the bottom of this page, I've included 3 websites that give some of the history of many of these families before they came to the Pacific Northwest.

St. Rose of the Cayuse, was a Catholic Mission which was established in 1857 by Father Chrouse. Until 1863, services were held in homes, camps and temporary structures. The first St. Rose was built about 4 miles above Whitman mission.

In 1863, a log chapel was built on the William McBean claim. Burials were made along the river bank. In 1876  the mission and cemetery were moved to higher ground. As you go into Walla Walla, the mission was right off the highway on the right hand side, on the left, stands the 2 crosses which mark where the cemetery was.

I've been researching the area and have found some of the names of the people who were buried there. I'm also including a section of others who were buried in the area. I've relied heavily on the Catholic Church Records book that was authored by the Munnick family. Without the dedication of the Munnick family, there would be almost no record of many of the people in this area. Other information is taken from Lyman's history book, 1918, Newspaper articles, and quarterlies from the Walla Walla Valley Genealogical Society. I would also like to thank the Catholic Diocese for checking their records. Janine Bork.

If you have information about the families, history, family stories or photos, I'd love to put them on the site. Also any corrections or additions to the people would be most welcome. Contact the new county coordinator, Nola Conway.

Both of the listings were done in Excel, so it will take a few minutes for your web browser to convert the pages. Be patient and it will appear.

Cemetery Listing of those who were buried at St. Rose Cemetery.

Listing of those who were buried in unknown locations, possibly by the river.

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Celia Tomlin, from U.S. GenWeb has put the 1910 Census for Frenchtown on-line. It can be found at:

1910 Frenchtown Census.

Websites to learn more about the French Canadians and  history of the country.

Hudson's Bay Company

New Caledonia Metis Association

John Martinson's Website:
Discovering the Pacific Northwest

History Lessons on the Pacific Northwest