Moynahan Surnames

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Moynahan-Fortier Mystery Leads Me To A Wyandotte Chief

This blog post demonstrates the fascinating tangents that genealogical research can take you. In wanting to determine the relation of an Essex county Moynahan I found the Captain Charles Fortier family which then led me to the family of the Chief of the Wyandottes in Anderdon, Ontario.

Source: Teach Me Genealogy
It All Started With 
Denis Moynahan (1787-1885) 

When researching my 3rd great-grandfather Denis Moynahan (1787-1885) in the early days of Essex County (1820-1860), I would always came across another Denis Moynahan (#2) who was born in 1823 (Ireland) and died at the young age of 42 years on the 9th of November in 1865.

Because of Irish naming traditions, I have always tried to connect this Denis Moynahan (#2) with my other Essex county Moynahan ancestors to no avail. ( I have yet to locate any BMD record)

Denis (#2) was well educated. My Moynahan ancestors of the same time period were unable to read or write.

Denis (#2) married Elizabeth ("Eliza") Fortier (1831-1871) and they had four children: Ellen, Mary Jane, John and James.

When widow Elizabeth ("Eliza") Fortier died in 1871, the young children were raised by the Fortier family.

Denis Moynahan (1823-1865) was
  • Crown Land Agent in 1857
  • Township Clerk of Sandwich West in 1861
  • District and County Clerk between 1863-1864
  • In charge of Sandwich Infantry No. 1 Co in 1864 
Despite Denis (#2) being so well positioned in the early politics of Essex county, there is so very little actually written or known about him and some local histories do not even mention him.


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 12)


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 104)


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 72)
 Death 1865

John Fortier Moynahan 

Of the four children of Denis and Eliza (Fortier) Moynahan, I have learned most about John Fortier Moynahan. Sister Mary Jane died in her twenties; sister Ellen, I believe, became a Sister of Charity in Winnipeg, and brother James died at thirty four years of age.

Here is what I know so far about  Denis and Eliza's only known surviving son John.
Source: The Book of Detroiters

Source: Detroit Free Press January 15, 1939

John was the eldest son of Denis and Eliza (Fortier) Moynahan and he was only two years old when his father died (1865)  and 8 years old when his mother died (1871).

He owned a successful metalworks in Detroit - the Moynahan Metal Works (est 1912) - and I find it most interesting that he took pride in his shanty house beginnings and would defend his proud description of himself as a "shanty Irishman". He also proudly retained ownership of his childhood home ("shanty") in Anderdon, Ontario in the 1940s
Source: Detroit Free Press Feb 14, 1941

Source: "The City of Detroit" 1701-1922

Descended from Captain Charles and Jane Fortier

The Amherstburg newsclipping where I found J.F. Moynahan as a pallbearer at his uncles funeral in 1917 started me on a new tangent that would lead me to Captain Charles Fortier and the Chief of the Wyandottes

Source: The Ameherstburg Echo: March 23, 1917

The Fortiers of Anderdon

Finding J.F. Moynahan as a pallbearer at his uncle Edward Albert Fortier's 1917 funeral yielded some insight into the Fortier family from which he descended. 

I spent a lot of time on that tangent even though the Fortiers are only related through marriage to a Moynahan I have yet to prove is directly related. 

Captain Charles Fortier was an important character in the early history of Ontario. He was a captain in the British Army and came west from Quebec at the war of 1812 and served as Commissariat in Amherstburg. After the war, the Captain settled in Pain Court, Kent until his death when the family moved to Anderdon, Ontario. (Source: Amherstburg Echo March 1917)

Chief of the Wyandottes - Joseph White Sr.

Captain Charles' daughter (Eliza Fortier Moynahan's sister) Angelique (1816-1895) married Chief Joseph White Sr. - Chief of the Wyandotttes (he died in 1885).

Source: Gary Hall; Photo of Chief Joseph White at 45 years

Joseph White Sr., an acquaintance of Chief Tecumseh and British general Sir Isaac Brock during the War of 1812, was later honoured by the British monarch King Edward VII for his aid in putting down the 1837 rebellion.

They had six children together (four sons and two daughters) and two of the sons, Solomon and Thomas, were important figures in the early politics in Ontario.

  • Son: Solomon b. 1836 who became Mayor of Windsor (1890) and a Conservative MPP for 20 yrs. Prior to entering politics, Solomon was a vintner & a cattleman
  • Son: Thomas, became a prominent businessman and long-time reeve of Anderdon and Ex-warden of Essex
  • Son: Joseph White of Windsor
  • Son: Alexander White of Windsor
  • Daughter: Mrs Pierre Ramon
  • Daughter: Evangeline (Eva) White, b 1855 (Mrs. E.L. Scully )
Captain Charles an Angelique are buried together in the Amherstburg Wyandotte Indian cemetery

Source: Windsor Public Library
Joseph and Angelique (Fortier) White Headstone

Source: Windsor Star
Oldest descendant of Chief Joseph White

Ernest White (photographed above in a Lakeshore, Ont. home July 16, 2013) turned 100 on July 27 and he is the oldest descendant of the last Canadian Wyandot Nation chief Joseph White.


1 comment:

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