Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Riopelle Family Papers, 1737-1894

Finding aid created by
Liz Kerstens, 2004, and Shannon Wait, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Riopelle family papers
Creator: Riopelle family
Inclusive dates: 1737-1894
Extent: 38 items
The Riopelle family papers consist of documents and correspondence relating to various members of the Riopelle, Beaubien, and Gouin families in Montreal, Quebec, and Detroit, Michigan.
Language: The material is in English and French
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1942. M-437.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Riopelle Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The documents are arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


Jean Baptiste Cuillerier dit Beaubien was baptized January 6, 1709, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He served as a military officer in Quebec and then at Fort Detroit. In Detroit, he married Marie-Anne Lootman-Barrois on January 26, 1742, and they had at least 15 children, including Jean Baptiste Beaubien (1754-1792), who also served at Fort Detroit, and Antoine, who was lieutenant colonel in the 1st Regiment of Militia in Michigan Territory.

Joseph Nicholas Gouin was born in Detroit June 10, 1746. He married Mary Archange Boyer September 1, 1781, in Detroit and was the father of three children: Peter (b. 1781), Colette (1782-1848), and Claude (b. 1789). After his death in 1813, his widow and two younger children were involved in several land transactions deeding Nicholas's strip farms along the Detroit River to Collette and her husband, Dominique Riopelle.

Ambroise Riopelle was born March 3, 1738, at L'Ange Gardien, Quebec, Canada, and married Teresa Campau in Detroit in November 1766. They had 13 children, including Hiacynth (b. 1780) and Dominique (1787-1859

Collection Scope and Content Note

The 38 items in the Riopelle family papers span 1737-1894 and relate to several interconnected families of French-Canadian origin living in Montreal and Detroit. The collection contains 26 legal and military documents, 5 receipts, 3 letters, 2 newspaper clippings, and 2 small prints. Approximately one-third of the collection is in French.

The legal documents include a 1737 trading license for Jean Baptiste Cuillerier dit Beaubien allowing him to trade in the vicinity of Fort Detroit; it specifies his route, trading partners, and supplies. Most of the other legal documents are land deeds and title abstracts for land in southeast Michigan owned by various family members. President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe signed a land patent issued to "Ambroise Riopel" on April 20, 1811. A few items after Nicholas Gouin's death in 1813 relate to the bequest of his land near the Detroit River to his daughter Collette and son-in-law, Dominique Riopelle.

The collection's seven military documents include promotions, general orders, and commissions, issued between 1753 and 1805. One such item, signed by King Louis XV and dated August 16, 1766, commissions J.B.M. Quindre as sublieutenant of a Burgundy Regiment. Other military documents relate to the Beaubien brothers in Michigan. Also present is a copy of the terms of treaty between the United States and the Chippewa, signed at Michilimackinac (October 18, 1842).

The collection's three letters relate family matters, including the death of Dominique Riopelle's uncle (April 29, 1843) and news from a branch of the family in Chatham, Michigan (June 25, 1845). The undated items comprise a list tallying trading activities with Native Americans; two newspaper clippings (one concerning land near River Rouge and the other giving biographical information on William Gouin); and two small prints, one of Lewis Cass and one of Detroit in 1820.

Subject Terms

    • Detroit (Mich.)
    • Fort Detroit (Detroit, Mich.)
    • Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.)
    • Indians of North America--Michigan--Treaties.
    • Land grants--Michigan--Early works to 1800.
    • Land titles--Registration and transfer.
    • New France. Army--Promotions.
    • Ojibwa Indians.
    • Beaubien, Jean Baptiste, 1754-1792.
    • Beaubien, Antoine.
    • Gouin, Archange.
    • Gouin, Joseph Nicholas, b. 1746.
    • Riopelle, Ambroise, b. 1738.
    • Riopelle, Dominique, 1782-1859.
    Genre Terms:
    • Financial documents.
    • Legal documents.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Riopelle family papers [series]
    Folder   1  
     1737 July 12, Contract between Jean Baptiste Cuillerier and Julien Rivard.
    Folder   2  
     1737 August 17, Trading license issued by Charles M. de Beauharnois, commanding officer of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, to Beaubien and Germain to go to the Fort of Detroit with four men.
    Folder   3  
     1739 September, signed agreement between C. Portier and Lieut. Jean Bte. Cuillerier Beaubien.
    Folder   4  
     1751 September 18, Land description written by C. Gouin.
    Folder   5  
     1753 July 2, Promotion of Lieut. Cuillier Beaubien by The Marquis Duquesne.
    Folder   6  
     1758 December 14, Promotion of Lt. Beaubien to Captain by Pierre Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil.
    Folder   7  
     1766 May 6, Letter to Beaubien Cuillerier from his niece (name illegible).
    Folder   8  
     1766 August 16, Commission as Sublieutenant for Jean Baptiste Michel Quindre, signed by Louis XV.
    Folder   9  
     1775 August 1, Commission as Second Lieutenant for Jean Baptiste Beaubien signed by Guy Carleton.
    Folder   10  
     1781 May 18, Receipt from Dyee & Williams to Mr. Riopel for coffee.
    Folder   11  
     1793 January 15, Agreement between Ambroise Riopel and Israel Ruland.
    Folder   12  
     1798 January 30, General Order for the Militia signed by Colonel Winthrop Sargent.
    Folder   13  
     1805 September 12, Commission as Lieutenant Colonel for Anthony Beaubien, signed by Michigan Territorial Governor William Hull.
    Folder   14  
     1805 October 1, General Order promoting Ensign James Peltier to Lieutenant and John Burnett to Ensign, signed by James May, Adjutant General for Lt. Colonel Beaubien.
    Folder   15  
     1807 January 29, Receipt signed by Wm. Scott to Hyacinth Riopelle.
    Folder   16  
     1809 August 15, Copy of receipt signed by Wm. Scott to Nicholas Gouin for District Tax.
    Folder   17  
     1811 April 20, Copy of original land patent to Ambroise Riopelle by President James Madison.
    Folder   18  
     1811 July 10, Copy of original land patent to Jesse Hicks by President James Madison.
    Folder   19  
     1819 March 23, Receipt signed by Claude Gouin to Dominique Rioppelle for notes due Claude for his share of his father Nicholas' farm sold to Dominique.
    Folder   20  
     1819 June 24, Deed of sale between Archange Gouin, widow of Nicholas Gouin, and Dominique and Collette Riopelle (her son-in-law and daughter) for her portion of Nicholas Gouin's farm.
    Folder   21  
     1819 June 24, Deed of sale between Claude Gouin, son of Nicholas Gouin, and Dominique and Collette Riopelle (his brother-in-law and sister) for his portion of Nicholas Gouin's farm.
    Folder   22  
     1828 September 16, Original land patent to Dominique and Colette Riopelle signed by President John Quincy Adams.
    Folder   23  
     1836 June 8, Copy of deed of sale between Dominique and Colette (Gouin) Riopelle to Joseph Riopelle.
    Folder   24  
     1836 June 26, Receipt signed by Claude Gouin to Dominique Rioppelle for notes due Claude for his share of the farm sold to Dominique by Claude's mother.
    Folder   25  
     1840 June 25, Letter from Claude Gouin to Dominique Rioppelle.
    Folder   26  
     1842 October 18, Copy of a document concerning treaty between the United States and the Chippewa signed at Michilimackinac.
    Folder   27  
     1843 April 29, Letter from James McMullen to Dominique Riopelle.
    Folder   28  
     1847 February 23, Warranty Deed between Dominique Riopelle & Collette to Dominique Riopelle, Jr.
    Folder   29  
     1859 March 23, Abstract of Title of Jesse Hicks farm,  1809-1859.
    Folder   30  
     1860 August 23, Abstract of Title of George Kirby farm,  1823-1860.
    Folder   31  
     1877 February 15, Abstract of Title of Riopelle farm,  1819-1877.
    Folder   32  
     1894 October 5, Certification of Jesse Hicks land patent from General Land Office.
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Native American trading document.
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Description of Private Claim number 13.
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Clipping: "William Gouin, The Only Man Who Lost His Life in the Naval Engagement Between the Kearsarge and the Alabama." (unknown newspaper)
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Clipping: "Clouded Claim to River Rouge Tract Cleared." (unknown newspaper)
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Print of Lewis Cass.
    Folder   33  
     [n.d.], Print of Detroit in 1820.
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    Several Riopelle family items are housed in the Book Division:

    Related Materials

    The Michigan collection contains a letter of June 26, 1817, written by Dominique Riopelle.