Native American Heritage information for an ancestor affiliated with the Turtle Clan of the St Regis, Mohawk.

+4 votes

A family member who did previous research said that the Corbin part of the family (Laura Rose (Corbin) LaDuke (1882 - 1919) -- Corbin-1437) had St Regis, Mohawk and other Native American heritage.  I have not been able to find the family member's sources.  

Two other distant family members have heard stories about Laura's Mother (Martha Luzena (Rouse) Fuller (1842 - 1906) -- Rouse-1228).  Their information included reference to the Turtle Clan.  One of the relatives references a letter that was received for a Canadian land grant (land rights are irrelevant to me except as a potential clue).

Martha's current and previous tombstones were inscribed with "Daughter of the Iroquois" -- albeit incorrectly spelled on both.

I understand that Native American records, in this case, if they exist, may use an English, French, or Native American name.  It is also clear that Martha was married at least twice (Corbin and Fuller).  I believe that the records I need are probably in Canada.

Where/How do I start to unravel this?

WikiTree profile: Martha Fuller
in Genealogy Help by Fred Cook G2G Crew (470 points)
not finding anything for her in this part of the woods, have to note that this lady is currently entered as born in 1803 in Quebec, Canada.  Siblings before and after are born in New York, and there's no trace of her here, so that location is in doubt.  She marries in Ontario, which in this era is actually called Upper Canada, not Ontario.


I appreciate your reply, but I am left with the same questions.

The family records that I have refer to Quebec.  The family member that compiled the information I referenced is now dead -- so she is difficult to obtain clarification from.  I did not enter the siblings that you reference and will have to re-check my records to see if there is any reference to them.  It is also possible that the wrong Stephen Tompkins is referenced -- there is a note attached by Norm Davis III that notes that.

Her marriage is noted as Ontario because of marriage records from "St. Thomas Anglican Church, Belleville, Hastings, Ontario, Canada."  I presume that the church has not been moved, although I don't know how the location was referenced at that time, or in the time since the records were obtained.

I can see potential inconsistencies, and I have a lot of unanswered questions.  Unfortunately I don't know French, or Iroquois, and I cannot travel to Canada at the moment.  I would like to determine the correct information and more information.  I have a great deal of respect for my grandmother and I would like to find more substantial information about her ancestry if possible.

FYI, my grandmother has been dead for many years now and she was orphaned at a young age by the 1918 Flu Pandemic.  If you can think of any potential references, especially Native American name to Christian name cross references, I would appreciate knowing about them.

Ontario has records available online I believe for the time period in question, have not delved into them much myself since I mainly deal with Québec profiles.  You might be able to find the marriage record of Martha Tomkins married to George Rouse and see if it actually references where she was born.  I just know there is no trace of her on this side of the provincial border.

For the native aspects, sorry, not conversant with their oral traditions.
I have read Native Americans were frequently not recorded in early United States census records -- I suppose that might be an issue in Canada as well...

The Mohawk people were also a matriarchal culture.  That tended to create some additional record keeping challenges in places.


Fred S. Cook
I am a descent of the Turtle Clan. The Mohawk of St. Regis crossed the border frequently, as they didnt see a border just land. You may want to try the Desernto Archieves in Deseronto, Ontario - - They hold a lot of records for The Bay of Qunite Mohawk Tribe

3 Answers

+4 votes

Hi Fred, welcome to the challenge of representing oral tradition in the absence of any documentation to support it. We deal with all the time.  

the profiles of this family appear to be well sourced. You might add a paragraph under a heading such as Family Tradition. Here's one I edited that might serve as a model:

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (883k points)
edited by Jillaine Smith

The 1850 census says that some of the Rouse children were born in Canada and Find-a-grave includes a supposed date and place of the marriage for Martha Thompkins and George Rouse, so that might be the place to start looking: 

Wife of George Clinton Rouse. Married 20 May 1826 in St. Thomas Anglican Church, Belleville, Hastings Co., Ontario, Canada. Died aged 41y 11m 5d.

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 05 September 2020), memorial page for Martha Tompkins Rouse (6 Apr 1803–11 Mar 1845), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10541873, citing Ripley Cemetery, Ripley, Brown County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Chris Nelson (contributor 46617359) .


First, I appreciate your response.  

Whereas I had noted the reference to St. Thomas Anglican Church, additional notes indicate that the document is fragile enough that the church will not photocopy it -- apparently the risk of damage to the document is too great.  They will, and have, provided a hand transcribed copy that they certify to be an accurate reproduction.  Given that, I am still not sure where/how to proceed.  It is possible that the church would have christening documents potentially, but I am still back to the question of how to connect the 'Christian' name(s) to the 'Native American' name(s) to determine ancestry.

I understand that this is a common problem with Native American ancestry.  I also understand that frequently any good record sources were avoided as Native American children were frequently removed from their parents by the government in an attempt to 'civilize' them.  Additionally, many of the families were ostracized by white and Native American cultures if family members were from different Native American nations -- or a combination of white and Native American.

I have found references to "Island" as the listed birthplace in some census records.  I understand that some Native Americans referred to North America as "Island."  I also know that the relative who found the St Regis, Mohawk information was allowed to register with the US government as Native American -- unfortunately I don't know what documents he used.

Additional confusion and obfuscation was added by the fact that my grandmother was orphaned at an early age and the family appeared embarrassed, or at least reluctant, to discuss the mixed heritage.
Native people weren't given random English names.  It's probable that if Martha was Native she was mixed and had a white father or grandfather named Tompkins, so that's something to look for. That area of Canada was settled by Loyaists (there are some Tompkins in Wikitree who were Loyalists) so I would look at those families.  Martha would have to have been baptized in order to marry in the Church of England at that time, but that church didn't exist until 1816. I would also try to figure out who her husband's parents were and how he ended up living in Canada long enough to marry and have children.  Maybe he had Loyalist relatives....
Those sound like useful thoughts.  I have done very little research involving  Canada previously, so I expect that I will take some time learning the basics.


Fred S. Cook
Hi Fred, I don't know if you are still wondering about this question, but I'll add my two cents anyway. I am a little bit familiar with the St Regis Mohawk community, or, it is more commonly known today, Akwesasne. The territory existed along the St Lawrence River before any boundary was drawn between the US and Canada, or between Quebec and Ontario, and today, different parts of the Akwesasne territory overlap with all three of these entities (New York, Ontario, and Quebec). This makes historical research tricky!

However, I think I can help with the mention of "Island" -- I would guess that this refers to Cornwall Island, which is a large island in the St. Lawrence River that is part of Akwesasne territory. Or maybe to one of the smaller islands in the river -- there are many. However, I have heard people relatively recently refer to Cornwall Island as just "the Island." Technically, Cornwall Island overlaps with Ontario, while most of the rest of the Akwesasne islands are classified as Quebec, but as I said, everything is very close together.

Good luck!
+3 votes

Hi Fred, as others have noted Canadian records of her parents birth and marriage are not great. If anything exists to support First Nation heritage would be here but I have no clue where to look.  

Please see notes on my 5th great uncle profile of the about same time frame

First Nation people where clearly registered at this time, these are notes from a book, so i do not know where to look.

by S Stevenson G2G6 Pilot (238k points)
+2 votes
Rouse’s Point is a village on the Ny/Quebec border.  I think it was named for a man named Roux.  Loyalists who settled in Canada often were given land grants.   see Ithiel Towner profile which has an image of his claim.
by Anne X G2G6 Mach 3 (33.3k points)

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