Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Forts of Our Fathers in the Champlain and Richelieu Valleys

Landstat view of lower Richelieu River, Lake Champlain and Lake George, north is on the right and south on the left....

Visiting Fort Ticonderoga was an annual event when I was growing up.  My mother, Dorothy Mae Wills, loved the place at the northern end of Lake George and the southern end of Lake Champlain.  We went there every year and it was the place we were most likely to take out of town visitors. Today I have pictures of several different trips to the fort: with cousin Wayne, with my childhood friend Marianne, with college students from Europe. To this day it is often a place I love to bring visitors.

Visiting Fort Ticonderoga in the 1950s

Wayne and I on the cannons

and here are some more recent views.....
The lower Champlain Valley from Carillon

Carillon flying the colors of the French Regiments 

Moat around Carillon

My mother had no idea just how closely her family history and mine was interwoven with Fort Ti and other forts in the Champlain and Richelieu Valleys or did she?  My mother was ever mindful of the ancestors even though she did not know who they all were. Perhaps, on some level, she knew Ticonderoga and the Champlain Richelieu corridor was the location and the reason for her ancestors living where they lived and why she was there.  Many forefathers of the families featured on this blog,  Beauvais, Bissonnette, Glode, Poissant, Lavallé, Robert, Rivet, served in the Carignan-Salières Regiment in the forts from 1665 to 1668, or later in the Compagnies Franches de la Marine or the Regiments of the French and Indian War.  They served in the lands of Champlain and Richelieu Valleys.

The French claimed and occupied the area around northern Lake George or Lac Saint Sacrément through Lake Champlain to the Richelieu Valley from 1609 to 1759.  From the most southern to northern points, the forts were...

Fort Carillon built 1755-1759
Fort St Frederic 1731
Fort Ste Anne on Isle LaMotte in Lake Champlain built in 1666
Fort Ile-aux-Noix built 1759
Fort Ste Thérèse built 1666
Fort l'Assomption 1666 - later named St Jean
Fort St Louis 1665 - later named Fort Chambly
Fort Richelieu 1641 - later Fort Sorel

The northern forts built in the 17th century Ste Therese, St Jean, St Louis/Chambly, and Sorel were constructed to defend the settlements from Iroquois raids. Soldiers of the Carignan-Salières built and served in these forts.
The 17th Century Forts
The southern forts constructed in the 18th century,  Carillon (Ticonderoga), St Frederic (Crown Point), and Ile-aux-Noix (Lennox), defended French interests against the English. Today the French names for these forts are effaced from common memory; the English names, or in the case of Ticonderoga the names the English gave, are all that remain.

Here is a list of stories on this blog about the forts in the Champlain-Richelieu Valleys:


  1. I discovered your blog this morning, and as you can see in my blog, you seem to have a lot of the same interests as I do. I live in Vermont and I am trying to locate exactly where French settlers had their farms in the 18th century, especially on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. You can check my blog at (my name is really Christine). Note on Fort Saint-Frédéric: the fort was actually built in 1734, rather than 1731. A wooden stockade on the Vermont side was built in 1731, hence the date, but then Fort Saint-Frédéric was built on the New York side in 1734.

  2. Love your blog! My husbands family came from this area, Hemmingford, Quebec and Mooers, NY and earlier Swanzey, N.H. . I am in the process of researching the Richeleau area as his G.G.Grandfather William Freeman married Fanny McGrath in St. Jean Methodist church in 1857. He worked on the GTR and lived in Hemmingford with Charles Freeman the son of Ahaz Freeman of Mooers, NY. William became a conductor for Pacific Railroad and lived in Montreal and finally in Prescott, Ontario. The Freeman family is connected in so many ways to the settlement of this area and I really need to do more research. Thank you for all the information.