Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
Joseph and Augustine Rocque, Trappers
-As transcribed from pages 65 - 66
The first trapper to whom tradition ascribes a fur trading camp in Trempealeau County, after the early French explorers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was Joseph Roque,1 a prominent interpreter and officer of the Indian department in the days when the British ruled over Mackinac and its western dependencies. Roque was much trusted by the British officers, and accompanied (1780) Wabasha on his raid against St. Louis and the forces of George Rogers Clark in Illinois. He ranked as lieutenant in the Indian service, and at the close of the Revolution remained in the pay of the British government, being likewise prominent in the fur trade. During the War of 1812-15 he was employed by the English authorities and accompanied Colonel William McKay as lieutenant and interpreter on his Prairie du Chien expedition in 1814. According to Winnebago tradition, he had a wintering ground on a branch of Beaver Creek, not far from Galesville, and the occupancy of this region by him and a companion gave to this branch its name of French Creek.
Joseph's half-breed son, Augustin, was likewise an interpreter in the service of the British. With his father he accompanied McKay's Prairie du Chien expedition of 1814 with the rank of lieutenant. At the conclusion of the war Augustin took up his home with Wabasha's Indians and established several trading posts on the upper Mississippi. The same Winnebago tradition that ascribes a camp in Trempealeau County to the father, Joseph, also ascribes a post on Beaver Creek to the son, Augustin. The Indian name of Beaver Creek, Seen-tah-ro-cah, is from St. Roque, the original French fnmily name of this hunter. The valley was rich in beaver and elk, and hunting and trapping in this region were productive of rich results.
In 1823 Augustin Roque accompanied Major Stephen H. Long's expedition, but his services were unsatisfactory. Some time before 1826 he seems to have had a trading post at the mouth of the Buffalo River. In 1826 he moved to the present site of Wabasha. Featherstonhaugh mentions this trading house on Lake Pepin in 1835 and gives his Indian name as Wahjustahchay, or Strawberry.2
Resources for the above information:
The best sources of authority regarding the early settlement of Trempealeau County previous to 1850 are Antoine Grignon and L. H. Bunnell, both of whom arrived here in the forties. E. D. Pierce, from stories heard from pioneers, as a boy, from interviews with Antoine Grignon, and conversations with descendants of early settlers, gathered the information for three articles on the subject, all published in the Proceedings of the Wis. Hist. Society as follows: Early Days of Trempealeau, 1906, 246-255;. Recollections of Antoine Grignon, 1913, 110-136; James Allen Reed, 1914, 107-117. Dr. Bunnell's vivid recollections are found in: Bunnell, Winona and Its Environs (Winona, 1877), 183 et seq.
1 - Roque (variously spelled) is mentioned as interpreter for the Sioux, Wis. Hist. Colls., III, 229; VII, 167; XI, 134-135, 142, 156; XII, 61, 63, 81; and XII, 94, apparently fixes this interpreter as Joseph Roque. Whether Joseph or Augustin is meant in XII, 125, and XIII, 67, is uncertain. Id., IX, 264, presents a confusing problem. Among the lieutenants at Ft. McKay (Prairie du Chien) are given Joseph Rock, Sr., and Augustin Rock, Jr. Whether this is the Joseph of the earlier days is not apparent. The use of "Jr." and" Sr." would indicate that these two men were not father and son, that Augustin indeed was not the son of Joseph but of an Augustin, Sr. It is possible, however, that the use of the "Sr." and "Jr." was a clerical error arising from the fact that one may have been called Roque, Sr., and the other Roque, Jr., without regard to their first names. Augustin is mentioned as an interpreter, Id., IX, 254, 256, and an employe of the American Fur Co., Id., XII, 162. For a mention of the early activities of the Roques in the region, see: L. R. Bunnell, Winona and Its Environs (Winona, 1897), 69, 147, 371. "Joe" Roque, known to the early settlers, was the son of Augustin and grandson of Joseph.
2 - G. W. Featherstonhaugh, Geological Reconnaissance (Wash., 1836), 130.
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