Thursday, February 15, 2007


(from the Glacier Reporter There is a photo.)

Rosalie Allison LaFromboise, 80, former Browning resident, died of natural causes Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007, in Tacoma, WA. Funeral mass was celebrated at Little Flower Church. Burial was at Willow Creek Cemetery.

Rosalie LaFromboise was born July 25, 1926, to Charles and Mary (Gerard) Allison in Browning. She was raised in the Browning area and attended schools there. She married Robert LaFromboise in May, 1942, and they had twelve children: Mary Ellen, Robert Charles, Conrad, Roy, Lois, Lorna, Jeff, TJ, Don, Steve, Vickie and Lori.

Rosalie was first and foremost a homemaker during the time being a homemaker meant something. Beginning in Oakland, CA, before the war, she made a home for her new husband and their first child, Mary Ellen. When Robert went into the Air Force, she continued to care for her young family until he returned. By this time they also had a son, Robert Charles. After the war, Robert took advantage of the GI Bill and started college at Montana State University in Bozeman. Rosalie quickly set up housekeeping at the “strip houses.” After college they moved to Conrad where Robert taught school. By this time their family had grown to include Conrad, Roy, Lois and Lorna. In the fifties they were part of a farming community in Fisher Flat that included the Pepions, Mombergs, Wipperts and Smiths, to name a few. This is where Rosalie learned her talents and skills at being a homemaker. Rosalie had none of the modern conveniences. She carried water, prepared three meals a day, many of these meals from “scratch,” while caring for her six children and supporting her husband’s career. After a few years living in Fisher Flat, they moved to Browning and their family grew to include Jeff, TJ and Don.

Robert served on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council at this time and then began the first of their moves to various reservations when he took up his career in Indian Health Service. During their time in Poplar their son Steve was born and became disabled after an illness. The whole family later moved to the Flathead Reservation, residing in Ronan, where Vickie and Lori joined the family. Robert and Rosalie found themselves moving their family back to Poplar and then to Billings where Robert passed away in 1985. She moved back to Ronan after Robert’s death and continued to care for her son, Steve.

Rosalie created a home for a large family and exended her home to many of the family’s friends. She created a home that supported her husband’s career while encouraging her children to finish high school and go on to higher education. Robert set a standard for high expectations, and Rosalie ensured, encouraged and supported her children to reach these expectations. Rosalie valued education because she was not able to finish her high school education. She made a point that all of her children would help provide and care for Steve so he could stay at home.

She developed lifelong friendships wherever she lived. Her friends included Eileen Pepion, Jeannie Wippert, Aurice Show, Margie Kennedy, Lucille McKay, “Snookie” Schlenski, Merle Cobell, Katherine Eder, Lee Lozeau, Opal Cajune, Adele McClammy and her best friend of all, Patsy Momberg.

Not only did Rosalie maintain a welcoming and comfortable home, she was a career woman herself. She worked many years as a nurse’s aide in nursing homes and hospitals in all of the communities where she and her family lived. Rosalie worked hard but also made time to have fun. she loved to knit, crochet and listen to country music and travel. Rosalie was able to go to Nashville and see the Grand Ole Opry, Washington D.C., Reno, Las Vegas and Germany. The Seattle-Tacoma area was Rosalie’s favorite place and she thought herself fortunate to be able to live there for the last fourteen years, coming back often to visit her family in Montana.

Our mother leaves us a rich heritage of independence, hard work, family loyalty, concern and caring for others and a wealth of memories gathered over the years with family and friends. She built the foundation of our lives and the lives of the lives of her grandchldren. She helped us to become who we are today. We thank her for being our mom. We are proud to be her children.


35 years old (in 1908), 3/8 Piegan

Her father was William Wright, white. Her mother was Mary Split Ears, 3/4 Piegan.

Her maternal grandparents were Spotted Eagle and Bead Woman.

Her maternal uncles and aunts included: John Spotted Bear (half-brother, same father); James Spotted Eagle (half-brother, same father); Made Coup in the Middle, wife of Iron (half-sister); Lodge Pole, wife of Round man (full-sister); Joseph Spotted Eagle (half-brother); Nellie Spotted Eagle, wife of Eddie Running Crane (half-sister, same father); Lucy, wife of Wades-in-the-Water (same father); Thomas Spotted Eagle (half brother, same father.)

Sallie’s siblings were Mollie, wife of Devlin (full-sister) now living with Mike Sullivan; Bert Kennerly (half-brother); Perry Kennerly (half-brother); Agnes Kennerly Round Face (half-sister); Jerome Kennerly (half-brother); Susie Split Ears (half-sister, same mother); Maggie wife of Lone Eater (half-sister, same mother). Kennerly was an early trader.

Sallie’s husband was Alfred Allison, 42 in 1908, white. They were married November 1890 by the priest at the Holy Family Mission.

Alfred’s father was Arlington Alison, born in Virginia and living in Madisonville, Rawls County, Missouri, which was Alfred’s birthplace. Alfred’s mother was Mary Cox, born near New London, Rawls County, Missouri.

Alfred’s sibs were Joe Allison, a full-brother who lived in Texas; William Allison, a full-brother who lived in Oklahoma; Beulah Allison, a full-sister who lives near Chelsea, Oklahoma; and Anna Laura Allison, full-sister, who died without marrying in Pipe County, Missouri.

Sallie’s children were all 3/16 Piegan. In 1908 they were William (16 years old), Lafe (14), Wendell (12), James (10), Annie (8), Seraphine (7) and Charles (3).

Charles became the father of Rosalie Allison LaFromboise.

36 years old (in 1908), 3/8 Piegan

Fred’s wife was Rose Girard, 24 years old, 1/4 Piegan. They were married March 24, 1903, at Augusta, MT, by the priest.

Fred’s father was Theodore Douglas, white. His mother, Mary Douglas, was 1/2 Piegan and lived at Augusta, MT. Her father was unknown, but her mother was Mary Kaiser.

Rose Girard’s uncles and aunts included Jack Miller (half-brother, same mother); Maggie, wife of Frances Goss (half-sister, same mother); Margaret, wife of Jack Schmidt (half-sister, same mother).

Fred’s siblings were James Douglas; William; Robert; Theodore; Millie, Julia, Peter (died, leaving Isabelle Douglas at St. Peter’s Mission -- her mother is Mary Lewis who also lives at St. Peter’s), and John.

Fred’s children were Mary Girard (4 years old) and Charles Robert Girard (born August 15, 1906). It was this little girl who became Rosalie LaFromboise’s mother.

Other notes: Mary Lewis Douglas in 1915 married a whiteman named Kologi and is living at St. Peter’s Mission. Millie Douglas married James Steele, a Cree. She had a child on January 21, 1909, which died February 15, 1906. The entry says that Millie is now living with Fred Girard on the Middle Fork of the Milk River.

(This information is from the book called “Blackfeet Heritage, 1907-08” which can be bought at the Blackfeet Heritage Center in Browning, Montana.)

Quite a bit of information can come from these raw facts (with the caution, as I’ve discovered in speculating on my own birth family, that one might be wrong). The most obvious thing I see here is that Girard is a French name and might mean a Metis background. Allison is not just English but from the American South. Rosalie’s grandfather might have had Confederate connections and have escaped from trauma after the Civil War or he might have been trying to avoid the war by moving West.

On Sallie’s side, his wife’s Blackfeet side, there are many prominent and important names. One that always intrigues me is “Bead Woman,” who might be the same as “Blue Bead Woman.” A single blue bead on a necklace and two more on wristlets were in the early days a sign of being a Bundle Keeper. Since most of the people who look at Blackfeet history are male, they tend to neglect or just overlook the reputations and important functions of women. A man cannot be a Bundle Keeper without a wife. “Blue Bead Woman” pops up in the background of many notable Blackfeet. It would be fascinating to work out her life and relationships.

From my own background, I can see one overwhelmingly important factor. In the Sixties people like Rosalie and Benton Juneau were in their prime, strong and vital parts of the human infrastructure not just of the Blackfeet Reservation but also of the shared networks among reservations -- often through Indian Health Services -- and of the Blackfeet diasphora created in part by the World War II effort when so many went to work in boatyards and at Boeing. They were eager to defend the United States and quick to fit into big cities.

These are the “bridge” people, far more significant than the Bering Straits land bridge that so fascinates some people. These folks were (some still are) a bridge across centuries between a collapsed empire and today’s world. Their children are the people who are in their prime now -- educated leaders, many put into important BIA positions by Indian Preference, and the beginnings of the reservation middle class. People like to look romantically at the ones who aren’t making it or the ones who seem to have completely leapt out of the reservation world, so they look away from the steady, caring, still-Blackfeet parents who get the work done. The idea is that they’re boring, predictable, conformist.

If you look at the names of friends in Rosalie’s obituary, you’ll have a pretty good list of the so-called “half-breeds” whom I prefer to call “double breeds” since they each have mixed double genealogies. The phrase “half-breed” suggests drunks, incendiaries, malcontents, and degenerates. But these people are solid citizens, contributors, people who had long successful marriages, who earned college degrees and raised happy children. These are the people the agents encouraged to learn how to dryland farm grains out on the eastern flats of the reservation, driving expensive machinery, watching the stock market for the best time to sell, reading to discover the best seed stock and planting techniques. The wives and mothers were proud and diligent, highly skilled in the arts of caring and comforting while at the same time instilling discipline. They gave their children what it has become fashionable to call "resilience."

I only know a couple of Rosalie’s children: Mary Ellen, who is a counselor of considerable skill and effectiveness; and Conrad, who became a Bundle Keeper, or so I believe. They are like their mother and I guess that’s about as good a compliment as I can pay.

1 comment:

Doug said...

There's a lot of wrong information about the Gerard and Douglas families here. Fred Gerards father was Frederick Gerard and his mother was named Katy. Rose Gerards father was Theodore Douglas and her mother was Mary. A few other connections are in error also.