Vincent S. Roy, Sr.

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Vincent S. Roy, Sr.

Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Leech Lake, Minnesota, United States
Death: February 18, 1872 (73-81)
Superior, Douglas County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Vincent Roy and Josepha Roy
Husband of Elizabeth Roy
Father of Jean Baptiste Roy; Francois "Frank" Gais Roy; Vincent Roy, Jr.; Therese Roy; Josette Elisabeth Dufault and 7 others
Brother of Francois Roy; Therese McGillivray; Margaret Roy; Jean-Baptiste Roy and Pierre Roy

Managed by: Nick
Last Updated:

About Vincent S. Roy, Sr.


Wayne Jones, author

According to the details at the Hudson Bay Company, Vincent worked for the North West Company from 1819 till the merger in 1821. He then started working for the Hudson Bay Company in the Rainy Lake district until he retired in 1824. However, he stayed on as a Colonist and Freeman at Rainy Lake until he retired "for the Americans" in 1833 and moved to LaPointe in 1840.

Not all items in the Hudson Bay Company account books were traded to Indians; many were purchased by the employees of the company for their own use or for family members. This is evident from the individual accounts kept for each employee. For example they indicate that Vincent Roy, Jr., an interpreter at Rainy Lake, was charged for the following items in 1822: one brown cloth, one fine scarlet vest, four yards black cloth, two rolls of satin ribbon, one yard of fine "Cambric," a half pound of colored thread, three yards of cotton, and 25 needles.

Minnesota Historical Society: Information on Vincent Roy. Information on two individuals named Vincent Roy is evidently to be found in the collection: Rice (Henry M. and Family) Papers, undated, 1824-1966 (P439). In the inventory decription for this collection, there are two V. Roys listed in the "Subject Headings:" Roy, Vincent, 1797-1872 and Roy, Vincent, 1825-1866 The folder ""Sketches, Box 4" contains brief biographical sketches of both of the above Roys.

[First document] Vincent Roy Sr. was born at Leech Lake Minn. in the year ["1779" is lined out] 1797, and died at Superior, Wis. Feb. 18th 1872. He was a son of a Canadian Frenchman by the same name as his son bears. When V. Roy, Sr was about 17 or 18 years old, they emigrated to Fort Frances, Dominion of Canada, where he was engaged by the North-West Fur Co. as a trader until the two Companies (the North-West and the Hudson Bay Co joined together) [sic] he still worked for the consolidated Company for 12 or 15 years. When the American Traders came out at the Vermillion Lake country in Minnesota Three or four years afterwards he joined the American Traders. For several years he went to Mackinaw, buying goods and supplies for the Bois Fortes bands of Chippeways on Rainy and Vermillion Lake Country. About the year 1839 he came out to the Lake Superior Country and located his family at La Pointe. In winters he went out to Leech Lake Minn., trading for the American Fur Co. For several years until in the year of 1847 when the Hon. H. M. Rice, now of St. Paul, came to this country representing the Pierre Choteau Co. as a fur trading company. V. Roy, Sr. engaged to Pierre Choteau & Co. to trade with his former Indians at Vermillion Lake Country for two years, and then went for the American Fur Company again for one year. After a few years he engaged as a trader again for Peter E. Bradshaw & Co. and went to Red Lake, Minn. for several years. In 1861 he went to Nipigon (on Canadian side) trading for the same company. In a few years, he again went back to his old post at Vermillion Lake, Minn., where he contracted a very severe sickness, in two years afterwards he died at Superior among his Children as stated before &c.

Another article states: One of the most widely known and highly respected Indians at the Head of the Lakes in pioneer days of the region was Vincent Roy, Superior. His father was a Montreal French Canadian; his mother a Chippewa. He was one of five brothers. Vincent was born on the American side of Rainy river near Fort Frances and in about 1850 moved to Superior. He followed the traders in various capacities and eagerly sought every means of education. He was "canoe man" for the missioneries and early white men who were anticipating a town site at the head of Lake Superior. He was always reliable and trustworthy. In due time Vincent established- a line of trading posts at points along the international border, extending as far west as Lake of the Woods. He then opened a general store in Superior, which served as a distributing point for products of his trading posts. His, business ability and success as a fur trader early made him an outstanding figure in the region. Nearly every year he made trips down the lakes to Detroit, Buffalo end Cleveland, and also to St. Louis, then the nation's largest fur market. Of Vincent Roy it was said that he was "better than most white men-reliable, intelligent, cheerful."

His obituary from the Evening Telegram of Superior, WI, Feb. 18, 1872 reads as follows :


After a painful and lingering illness the subject of this sketch died last Sunday morning. Mr. Vincent Roy Sr. was born about the year 1795 at Leech Lake, Minn. and was about 77 years of age at time of his death.

When about 20 years old he left his native place to go to Ft. Francis on Rainy Lake, where he was engaged as a trader by the Hudson Bay Company, under which Company he served 15 years. Thence he moved with his family to LaPointe on Lake Superior in 1840, and held a similar position in the old American Fur Company 5 or 6 years. He was also for several years engaged as a trader with the Indians for Messrs. P. K. Bradshaw & Co. of this place; all of which positions he filled with satisfaction to his employers and credit to himself.

His greatest enjoyment and principal occupation was travelling and trading among the Indians, and his exploits among them, in the almost unknown wilderness of Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, the privations he endured, and perils he passed through, form many interesting incidents of the old man's life.

Four years ago his sons Vincent and Charles brought him from Vermillion Lake to Superior in an enfeebled condition and although since occasionally he has made short trips, he was forced at last to succumb to the infirmities of old age and impaired health and has finally gone to his last resting place, leaving his wife, 6 sons and 2 daughters to mourn his loss. One of his sons, the Hon. Peter Roy of Crow Wing, served several terms in the Minnesota Legislature. Another Vincent Roy Jr. is a successful merchant of this place.

The erect, manly form, and open honest countenance of old man Roy will long be remembered by the people of this nation and many foreigners who have travelled trough the Northwest.

His remains were taken last Monday to Fond du Lac for interment at the old burial grounds.

His broken grave stone is now in Jay Cooke Park. Well, it's just outside of the park proper, but basically in those woods. It's off of Hwy 210 (which goes through the park) between mile marker 26 and 27 on the North side of the road. There's a gate basically at the road and you can walk beyond it, along a 4-wheeler type of trail to the left about 1/4 mile. It's in the middle of the woods and if it weren't gated, I never would have noticed it. It's very small. It's a burial ground and there are only two markers that I could find. Francis Roussain owned this land and he moved the graves from down by the St. Louis river at the site of the fur trading post. The cemetery is called Roussain Cemetery and from what I read on the internet, there's session in the MN government to make this a Fond du Lac Cemetery. - Camerin Wendling

According to the book "A Forever Story: The People and Community of the Fond du Lac Reservation" edited by Thomas D. Peacock of Fond du Lac reservation :

"Trading with Indians for furs began in the mid-1600's and continued for two hundred years. The first documented trading post in the Fond du Lac area was established by the North West Company in present day Superior, Wisconsin, in 1793. On the Minnesota side of the St. Louis River, in present day Fond du Lac, the American Fur Company traded from 1814 until 1834, at a location on the shore of the river between what is now 133rd and 134th Avenues West. Behind the post were two burial grounds, one Christian and one older Indian site at the base of the hill. Several missions and a school were conducted at Fond du Lac during the 1800s." p. 44-45

Later, on page 45, the book states, "The Ojibwe continued to live in the village, including the islands, until the Treaty of La Pointe in 1854, which established the Fond du Lac Reservation near Cloquet, MN."

Again, later on page 45, "The Village was platted in 1856, incorporated in 1857, and eventually annexed by the City of Duluth. In 1870, construction of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad passed through the burial grounds of the Fond du Lac Village. This prompted Eustache Roussain, son of an early French fur trader and and Ojibwe mother, to move many of the burials to land he owned up the hill in what is now Jay Cooke State Park. Spirit houses and white picket fencing were present until the 1950s. The last burial in Roussain's new cemetery was a Mrs. Durfee in 1914."

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Vincent S. Roy, Sr.'s Timeline

Minnesota, United States
Age 26
Age 28
Age 30
Fort Frances, Rainy River District, ON, Canada
Age 32
February 23, 1828
Age 33
Rainy Lake, Koochiching, MN, USA
Age 34
Wisconsin, United States
Age 36
Madeline Island
Age 38
Wisconsin, United States
July 28, 1839
Age 44
La Pointe, WI, USA