CHEVALIER, JEAN-BAPTISTE, voyageur, merchant; baptized 6 Aug. 1677 in Montreal; son of Joseph Chevalier and Françoise-Marthe Barton; m. 8 April 1709 to Marie-Françoise Alavoine in Montreal; d. late 1746 or early 1747, burial place unknown.
In 1718 Jean-Baptiste Chevalier moved his family to Michilimackinac from Montreal, and in the following years he established commercial and family ties throughout the west. As an engagé he made a number of trips from Montreal to the pays d’en haut, including one to the Saint-Joseph post (probably at or near Niles, Mich.) in 1730 and, for Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye, one to Michilimackinac in 1735. He also became a leading merchant at the latter post. The business was probably tended in his absence by his wife and apparently continued by her after his death.
At least 12 of the 16 Chevalier children lived to maturity, and they also took part in the business. (Jean-Baptiste, his wife, and several of the children were able to write – no common achievement at Michilimackinac.) The girls often accompanied the men of the family to the various outposts in spite of the rigorous travelling conditions in the pays d’en haut. They and their brothers intermarried with other important families in the region. Marie-Anne, for example, became the wife of Charles Chaboillez, a trader at Michilimackinac, and their five sons followed their father’s occupation. Louis-Thérèse*, who married Marie-Madeleine Réaume, established another important branch of the family. Such alliances helped give the Chevaliers good trading connections at Nipigon (near the mouth of the Nipigon River, Ont.), Sault Ste Marie, the Saint-Joseph post, Michilimackinac, Cahokia (East St Louis, Ill.), and Detroit.
The exact date and place of Jean-Baptiste’s death are uncertain. The most that can now be said is that he died sometime between 12 June 1746, when he signed a voucher for supplies at Michilimackinac, and 10 June 1747, when his widow submitted a similar claim. She later returned to Montreal, where she was buried on 20 March 1756.
AN, Col., C11A, 117, f.91ff.; 118, ff.29, 30; 119, f.310. DPL, Burton hist. coll., Christian Denissen, [Genealogy of the French families of Detroit] (26v., typescript, n.d.), C/3, 2785–89. St Ann’s Parish (Mackinac Island, Mich.), Registre des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures de Sainte-Anne-de-Michillimakinak, 1695–1821; an annotated version under the title “The Mackinac register” is in Wis. State Hist. Soc. Coll., XVIII (1908), 469–513; XIX (1910), 1–149, but it contains some inaccuracies. The John Askin papers, ed. M. M. Quaife (2v., Detroit, 1928–31), I: 1747–1795. “The St. Joseph baptismal register,” ed. George Paré and M. M. Quaife, Mississippi Valley Hist. Rev., XIII (1926–27), 213–15, 223, 227, 229–31, 239. Dictionnaire national des Canadiens français (1608–1760) (2v., Montréal, 1958), I, 258–71. Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1929–30.