Pages 90 - 91

JOSEPH GAUTHIER, of Keshena, Shawano county, was born August 18, 1818, at Rock Island, Illinois, and is nearly a full-blooded Menominee Indian. His father's name was Shaw-nah-wah-quah-hah, and his mother's name was Sho-sha-quaer, a daughter of Kanote, who was a sub-chief and a brother of Tomah, the head chief of the tribe, and a noted Indian of his time.  Both Kanote and Tomah had some white blood in their veins from a distant ancestor. 

Mr. Gauthier's Indian name was Mahchickeney, and he was an only son. His father died when he was eight years old, and his mother afterward married Antoine Gauthier, an employee of the American Fur Company, who were extensive traders with the Indians all over the Northwest. Antoine Gauthier remained with this company for about thirty-five years. He then went to farming in Henry County, Illinois, where he remained until his family grew up and were
scattered, when he went to Kansas and died in Kansas City, Mo., in September 1856. After his mother's second marriage, Mr. Gauthier took his step-father's name, which he still retains. By the second marriage of Mr. Gauthier's mother, children were born as follows: Antoine, who for many years was interpreter for the Sacs and Fox Indians, but afterward married a daughter of Muck-Kunth, the chief of the Chippewa and Munsee tribe; he died in 1875. Louis also married into the same tribe and family as his brother, Antoine, and died in 1892; Frank, who married into the same tribe, died in 1870; John, who married into the Sacs and Fox tribe, was a farmer near Rock Island, Illinois, all his life, and died there in 184? , Susan married a half-breed Menominee, is still living, and since the death of Mr. Gauthier's wife has been his housekeeper; Margaret married a son of Muck-Kunth, the chief of the Chippewa and Munsee Indians; she died in 1862, and her husband in 1888.

Joseph Gauthier's younger days were spent in the vicinity of Rock Island, Illinois, and he received some education by attending the primitive schools of that period, and from what the officers of the fort taught him, which he improved as he grew older. In his boyhood days he knew Gen. Harney, Gen. Scott, Gen. Banks, and other officers who became noted soldiers later on, and was always a favorite with the officers and soldiers at the fort. Mr. Gauthier was fourteen years old at the time of the Black Hawk war, and has a vivid recollection of the stirring times of that period. He was enrolled with the militia and carried a musket with the balance, but being young was not sent into the field. He was one of the pioneer lumber boys of the State, working for several years on Black River for D. B. Seers & Co., of Moline, Illinois. In 1850 he rejoined his tribe, who were located at Poygan, Wis., a few miles above Oshkosh. After working on a boat on Fox River one season he was given a position in the government blacksmith shop conducted for the benefit of the Indians at Winneconne. In 1852 the Menominees were removed on to their present reservation in Shawano county, and Mr. Gauthier came with them and continued to work in the blacksmith shop. Shortly afterward he»was appointed the boss of the shop at $40 a month, which was large wages for those days, and he continued in that position until 1857, when he was appointed the official interpreter for the tribe, which position he held until 1860, when a change of agents took place, and for political reasons he was removed. He then engaged in the mercantile business at Keshena under the firm name of Gauthier & Upham, his partner being Charles M. Upham, of Shawano, Wis., who is a brother of the present governor of the State. Mr. Gauthier continued in the mercantile business until 1866, when he was again appointed interpreter, which place he has held ever since, with the exception of about one year and a half.

During the Civil war Mr. Gauthier was an enthusiastic Union man, and if he could have arranged his business matters satisfactorily would have been to the front with his musket. As it was, he encouraged enlistments among the Indians, and was the prime mover in raising Company K, Thirty-seventh Wis. V. I., paying the expenses of transporting the company to Madison, and supporting many of the families of the men who enlisted. He accompanied the company to Madison, and was appointed special quartermaster for the services he had rendered. It is well enough to say here that Company K, Thirty-seventh Wis. V. I. were all Indians but two. They were mustered into service June 27, 1864. On July 31, 1864, they were in the front of Petersburg, and were caught in the explosion of the mine celebrated in the history of that fight, and nineteen of the company were killed, and several others wounded.

In 1852 Joseph Gauthier was married to Mary Ann Mo-sha-quah-toe-kiew, whose father died when she was a small child. They had one child, Frank, who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Gauthier adopted a small boy, and brought him up as their son. His name is Joseph F. Gauthier, and he is now a prosperous merchant and lumberman, and resides at Keshena, Wis. Mrs. Gauthier died July 12, 1892, when about sixty-seven years old, loved and respected by all.

Joseph  Gauthier is a member of the Catholic Church, and a regular attendant. Although he is partly blind, he retains all his mental faculties, and is respected and held in high esteem both by the Indians and whites. The present Chief of the Menominees is Ne-oh-pet, a son of the celebrated chief, Oshkosh. Ne-oh-pet, Chickeney and Nah-tah-wah-pah-my are the present judges of the Indian court, and try all Indian cases arising on the reservation. Mr. Gauthier acts as interpreter for the court. The decisions of this court are so pure and just that many white judges could learn a lesson from them in equity and justice.

Back to the Biographies Index Page
Back to the Shawano County Index Page