If I were to ask you, “Ever heard of Frenchtown…..and where is it?” What would be your answer………… I said Frenchtown, Montana, just west of Missoula, when Margie Beldin asked me this question. “Nope,” she said, “Frenchtown near Walla Walla!” WHAT??
Here’s the story summary: The French Canadian voyageurs travel throughout Canada and then down into the Pacific Northwest. As decades passed, and as they intermarried with local women, they did establish “Frenchtowns” or at least that was the designation given to these settlements.
It’s a forgotten bit of Northwest history that there was such a settlement just off Hwy 12 near the mouth of the Walla Walla River was established about 1824. The settlers in this area retained “their French Canadian character with their architectural forms, land division patterns and Roman Catholic religion.”
Margie Beldin, who has French Canadian ancestry, will give a presentation (in costume!) on this forgotten bit of Northwest history to the TCGS (Tri City Genealogical Society) meeting in October. Can’t wait!
**The quote is from www.historylink.org, the website for Washington history; an essay by Stephen B. Emerson posted in 2008.