I recently learned that my 5th great grandfather, Alexis Cuillerier, was accused of murder and got off. So I have decided to do some research and learn more about him. The first thing I need to do, is figure out what I know about Alexis Cuillerier. That way, I will know what I need to learn about him.
What I know about Alexis Cuillerier is that he was born between 1740 and 1750 in Detroit the son of Antoine Cuillerier and Angelique Girard. He married Marie Louise Reaume (Denissen) on 16 July 1770 in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada, now Windsor, Ontario, Canada and buried in Detroit in 1780 (Ancestry.com). This couple had six children, Marie Louise, Suzanne, Alexis, Marie Anne, Archange, and Catherine.
I also know that on 4 August 1767, Jean Maiet accused him of carrying out Chief Pontiac’s order to drown seven-year-old Elizabeth Fisher, who was a captive of Pontiac’s following a raid on Hog’s Island, now Belle Isle. Alexis was tried, found guilty of the crime, and then banished from Detroit (Lyskawa). He was eventually allowed to return after Chief Pontiac took responsibility for the death of Elizabeth Fisher.
That is the sum total of what I know about my fifth great grandfather. I am descended from him through his daughter Suzanne. I need to learn when he was born, if possible. Those records are available online. I also need to locate the record of his marriage to Marie Louise Reaume in Detroit on 16 July 1770. I already have a copy of his death/burial record. I can find these in the Drouin Collection on Ancestry.com.
I should also find out more about the events leading to the death of Elizabeth Fisher. To that end, I will need to do a bit of research on her and on the history of Detroit during the period preceding the American Revolution. That such documentation exists, is not in doubt. It may be found in the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library, or at the MT Clemens Public Library or even online at Ancestry.com. I also need to determine when and where Alexis was born and where he lived at the time of Pontiac’s uprising. I should also find out a bit more about his accuser, his jailers and judge, his family and Chief Pontiac himself. I can start online by searching for information at Ancestry.com. A trip to the library is also in my future, I think, since most of my sources are not really going to be online.
I will limit my research to the main characters of this story, namely Elizabeth, Alexis, Pontiac, Jean Maiet and Jehu Hay, the acting justice at the trial. I have a copy of a history of Detroit by Clarence M. Burton, which should also prove helpful in digging this out in depth.
My first step will be to Google Alexis Cuillerier. Then I will Google the other people I would like to learn about, and get what I can that way. There are very few historical documents online about Detroit during the middle to late eighteenth century. I need to figure out where the records I need are so that I can gain access to them. I need to learn what records I still need after I look at Ancestry for the records that are there. Of course, I won’t know that until after I try to find the vital records online at Ancestry.
I did Google Alexis, and the victim, but I only found a few references to the murder in books online. I will probably have to look through the Detroit or Wayne county court records for that time. That means that I may have to go to the Wayne County courthouse, if I can’t get access through a library. I might be able to get access at the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library. I will update the blog as I go through the process of research my 5th Great Grandfather. Wish me luck.