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William John Delorme, (1858-1889) and Josephine Desjarlais (1863-1936)

John Delorme was born on December 24, 1858 at St. Francois Xavier, the son of Norbert
Delorme1 and Charlotte Gervais. He first married Adelaide Boudreau, the daughter of
Alexandre Cayen dit Boudreau (chief Keetoowayhoo) and Marie McGillis in 1878. He
then married Josephte Desjarlais (b. 1863), the daughter of Jean Baptiste Desjarlais and
Josephte Fleury in 1881 at St. Vital. After John died in 1889, Josephte remarried to
Alexandre Robillard dit Hayden.
John, his father and younger brother Alexandre were all involved in the 1885 Metis
Resistance. John was a member of Captain Ambroise Champagnes company, one of the
19 dizaines led by Gabriel Dumont during the 1885 Metis Resistance. His widow,
Josephte (Josephine) Hayden told her children the following story:
I was born in Winnipeg when it was just a small place with few houses. When I was
12 years old, I left with my uncle, John Fleury to go to the North West. We stayed at
Fort Ellice, then moved on to [Prairie Pheaze] what is now called Melville. In 1880, I
met John Delorme and we got married. We honeymooned for three years, travelling
all over with a little black horse and a Red River Cart, south to Minneapolis, to
Spokane and then to the Rocky Mountains. My husband decided to earn some more
horses, so he built log houses, and took horses for his pay. He would scrub and pull
roots for farmers and in 1884 we had about 35 horses. We decided to go back to
Winnipeg; but we had the bad luck to be caught in the Rebellion east of Battleford in
1885. There was some fighting there, then we went to Pigeon Creek, where there was
a battle.
I remember seeing the soldiers coming down the hill [May 12, 1885 at Batoche],
they were wearing red uniforms. I could hear the shells banging all around me and I
put my baby2 in a wash tub as I thought that would protect her life. My husband told
me I had better start running away because we were going to get killed.

Norbert Mankachee Delorme (1837-1898) was the son of Urbaine Delorme and Madeleine Vivier.
He was born on May 8, 1837 at St. Franois Xavier. He married Charlotte Gervais, the daughter of Alexis
Gervais and Madeleine Gervais on June 7, 1858 at St. Franois Xavier. The couple hunted buffalo on the
plains for many years. He was then involved in freighting and other work with the HBC.
Norbert was the older brother of Resistance fighter Joseph Delorme. Their sister Catherine was
married to Donald Ross a Resistance fighter killed on the last day of the battle for Batoche.
Norbert moved to the North West Territory in 1874. In 1874 Norbert was one of the Metis hunters
who had signed the Half-Breed petition from Lake QuAppelle. In 1878, Norbert and other Metis buffalo
hunters at Cypress Hills wrote a petition asking for a special Metis reserve of land. Norbert settled at St.
Laurent on the South Saskatchewan in 1880 and worked as a freighter for the HBC. He was a member of
Riels Council (Exovedate) at Batoche during the 1885 Resistance. Delormes St. Laurent home served as
military headquarters for the Metis campaign. Riel sent him to the Battleford area to enlist the support of
the Indians in that area. On April 16, 1885, Norbert and Fine Day took some prisoners at the Bresaylor
Settlement.
2

Marie Seraphine Sarah, born February 1884 at Fort Ellice.

I took my baby and ran for the river bank. When I looked at the water, it was just
like just like it was raining heavy. It was the bullets from the soldiers guns. I saw all
kinds of men killed around me and I went through the river without a scratch. In a
bush on the far side of the river, the Half-Breeds and the Indians broke little trees and
hung their coats and caps there and the white men fought the coats and caps all day.
There were 13 Indians and three Half-Breeds killed and I think quite a few soldiers.
We lost everything we had, all our horses and wagons, all but our little black mare.
She had broken her rope and run away, so the white men didnt find her. So when my
husband went looking the next day, he saw her and called and she came right to him.
He jumped on her back and rode to where we were camped.
We decided to go back to the Rocky Mountains, we were just three families. We tied
two poles onto the pony and made a place for the five kids to ride. We walked all
night, and in the daytime we hid in the bush. Louis riel was with us, but he went back
to see what was happening. We waited there for a week, but he never came back. We
never saw him again.
We travelled west for about three months sometimes killing a cow we would find.
All we had to eat was meat. When we reached the mountains, we were practically
bare; our toes were sticking out of our boots, no dresses from walking through the
bush for three months. We built ourselves another house, and settled down again. By,
1889, we had earned 40 more horses, and my husband was starting to get sick, so we
decided to start for home again. When we were crossing the mountains, the young
colts feet would get sore. I would make them little moccasins to wear. They
wouldnt last very long. My husband got sicker, so we stopped to put up our tents.
We stayed there until he passed away. I was left with three kids, Sarah, John and
Alex. I gave four horses to pay for his funeral. By then we had to kill the colts,
because they couldnt walk any more.
I started for home in Winnipeg again. When I came to Battleford, I heard my mother
and father were at Fort Ellice. When I got there finally, I stayed there. I hadnt seen
my parents for 22 years.3

Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell


Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research
Louis Riel Institute

From Ellice 1883-1983, R.M. of Ellice Centennial Book Committee, St. Lazare, MB: 1983: 237-

238.

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