Red River Ancestry
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SARAH SALLY COOK (1811-1911)
(Last Updated: October 06, 2016)


James was a Cree Indian born sometime between 1809 and 1813. He wasn’t given the surname SETTEE until he was about 10 years old. At this point we don’t know for sure what his Cree name was.


The biography of Reverend James SETTEE is very well documented in numerous historic books and documents. The one written by Lewis G. Thomas in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (DCBO) is a good place to start. Keep in mind that some of the details in this Bio are contradicted by other authors.

Here’s the link: BIOGRAPHY of JAMES SETTEE in DCBO


HBC Posts around Hudson Bay

Early HBC fur trading posts around Hudson Bay


According to the above Bio, James SETTEE was born between 1809 and 1816 near Split Lake, MB (west of York Factory as shown on the map below). Adding to the confusion, some sources refer to his last name as SETTER; his middle name as Nelson.


Reverend John WEST and Reverend David JONES at Red River


On Oct 14, 1820 Reverend John WEST (1778-1845) arrived (via York Factory) at Fort Douglas (Red River), the first Church Missionary Society (CMS) clergyman in Western Canada. ** MORE ABOUT REVEREND JOHN WEST


We know that in the summer of 1823 Reverend WEST departed Red River for good. On his final trip to York he made this entry in his journal (pg 97):When within about 50 miles of York Fort (this would have been in the vicinity of Split Lake), two Indians paddled their canoe to the side of the boat, and requested that I would take a little boy, who was with them, under my charge. This I consented to do, if they would bring him to me on my return to the Colony”. This may have been SETTEE, but we know that WEST never did return to the Colony. Instead, he was replaced by Reverend David JONES (1796-1844) who he met with briefly at the time of his departure. JONES arrived in Red River in the fall of 1823.


There were two or three little Indian boys who were taken from Hudson Bay to Red River by JONES around the same time and later baptized with European surnames, but their true identities are not known for sure. There are several possibilities to consider; Johnny OIG, Thomas HASSAL and how about James SETTEE?



In 1961 Reverend Thomas C.B. Boon wrote an article in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled James Settee – Travelling Missionary of the Plains. Regarding his origins, Boon wrote: “There is s atradition  that he was born at Hay River and entered the Church Missionary Society (CMS) at Red River in 1823. He was baptized on June 24, 1827, and said to be 10 years old by Reverend D.T. JONES (1796-1844), who named him after a clerical friend in England. James may have been a year or two older at the time, but such details were thought unimplortant in those days; the one important thing about his school days was that he came under the influence of Reverend William COCKRAN, (1798-1865) an received impressions which he cherished for the rest of his life.


James marries Sarah COOK


On Jan 7, 1835 James married Sarah COOK at St Johns, daughter of Catherine SINCLAIR and Joseph COOK (1788-1848). ** MORE ABOUT JOSEPH COOK


Excerpts from DCBO: In 1841-42 SETTEE wintered in the Beaver (Weatherald) Creek- Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan) region with a band of Cree-Assiniboin and returned to Fort Ellice (MB) with his wife and family. The mission ended in failure in 1845, for SETTEE, a northern Swampy Cree, lacked kinship and language ties with the southern Plains Cree.

The Pas


From DCBO:SETTEE and his wife taught for a time at The Pas (Manitoba) and in the summer of 1846 the Reverend James HUNTER prepared him for Lac la Ronge. ** MORE ABOUT REVEREND JAMES HUNTER in DCBO


Tom Lamb: Jimmy SETTEE was another old landmark (at The Pas) along with John George Kennedy (1816-1897). They taught school and preached in the church, baptized and married Indians all over the north, Shoal Lake, Red Earth, Cumberland House, Moose Lake, Cedar Lake and North Arm Narrows on Moose Lake called the old Reserve. I think these two old cronies went to St. Johns College for a coupe of winters. They were possible picked up by the Rev. John Cochran. Quite a few old chaps at Moose Lake were baptized by Rev. John Cochran. No wonder it is hard to make out their old age pension paper for them. Old Richard BALLANTYNE, who died in the early thirties said he well remember being baptized at the Pas by John COCHRAN. He said the Reverend baptized about thirty boys and girls at one time. I asked him could he give me any idea how old he was when was baptized. He said he was already shooting a gun and had bad ideas about young girls so that would make about fourteen. I entered all this verbatim in the long yellow application form and sent it in to Winnipeg. Very shortly, after that old Richard started receiving his pension cheque.
John George and Jimmy SETTEE were real good Wasakajak storytellers. Sometimes they would get all balled up in church like tangled fishnets; he said the evil spirit chased all the pike off the big hill into the red sea and they went “chimook”. That is the noise the muskrat makes when he dives off a log. John George Kennedy was a big man, always smoked a big Peterson pipe about the size of a hen’s egg, half chewing tobacco and half nigger twist. He was about the grandest storyteller I ever heard. Absolutely wonderful at a wake. Would say, now I can see this old man entering Heaven, etc. A good wake lasted three days in the wintertime and two days in the summer. They would take the body from one relation’s house to the other – real good party.
John George would tell us about Rachel at the waterhole or other Bible stories. When Jimmy SETTER left for Red Earth, John George had to wear his white surplus, which only came down to his fat belly. It was the only one between here and Prince Albert.  ** Red Earth is located SW of The Pas, NE of Carrot River and Nipawin.


In 1851 SETTE was recalled to Red River.


Ordained as Deacon


On Christmas Day, 1851, James SETTEE was ordained as Deacon at the first such service held in the newly consecrated St Johns Pro-Cathedral. For a time he worked around the south end of Lake Winnipeg but in the summer of 1854 he went north again to Red Deer’s River in the Swan River District.


Explorer Henry Youle HIND (1817-1887) of the Palliser Expedition reported in 1858: “When Rev. James SETTEE arrived at the Qu’Appelle Mission last autumn (1857), the Crees of the Sandy Hills having received intelligence that the bishop had sent “a praying man” to teach them the truths of Christianity, directed messengers to inquire whether the great praying father had sent plenty of rum; if so, they would soon become followers of the Whiteman’s Manitou.” The messengers returned with the intelligence that the great praying father had not only omitted to send rum, but he hoped that the Plains Cree would soon abandon the practice of demanding rum in exchange for their pemmican and robes. The messengers were directed to return to the missionary with the announcement that “If the great praying father did not intend to send any rum, the sooner he took his praying man away from Qu’Appelle Lakes the better for him.”


Reverend James SetteeSarah (nee Cook) Settee

Reverend James Settee [Provincial Archives of Manitoba] and his wife Sarah (From her obituary)


Swan River District


By 1859 all of James’ children were born and their ages were as follows: James (age 23), George (21), Mary Ann (19), John Richard (18), Albert (12), Jane (10), Georgina (6), Elizabeth (5), Lydia (3), Nancy (age 2) and Henriette (a baby).

Eileen Hamilton informs us that Jane (born in 1849) was not James & Sarah’s biological child but was rather baptized with the surname SETTEE by James and became his foster child. If anyone knows who her real parents were, please let us know on the Forum.


Around 1860 daughter Mary Ann married James Robert SUTHERLAND, son of Isabella and William SUTHERLAND (b-1808).


In 1866 son James Jr. married Elizabeth TODD in St Clements, daughter of Isabella DENNETT and Dr. William TODD (1784-1851), an Irishman. ** MORE ABOUT DR WILLIAM TODD


Canadian Confederation
A Red River Rebellion
Manitoba becomes a Province
Signing of Treaty Number One


On Feb 28, 1867 son John Richard married Louisa MOORE, daughter of Nancy THOMAS and John MOORE (1804-1898). ** MORE ABOUT JOHN MOORE


On July 1, 1867 the British colonies in North America were united under the British North American Act to become the Dominion of CanadaSir John A MACDONALD (1815-1891) was appointed as Canada’s first Prime Minister.William McDOUGALL (1822-1905) became the Minister of Public Works, and he began negotiations to acquire Rupert’s Land from the HBC; surveyors were sent to Red River to prepare the way for an expected influx of settlers.


In 1868 daughter Georgina married John LOGAN at St Johns, son of Susan McGILLIVRAY & Kenneth LOGAN (1826-1859). 


On Oct 11, 1869, Louis RIEL (1844-1885) placed his foot on the surveyors’ chain to tell them their work was finished! This marked the beginning of the historic Red River Métis Rebellion. The Rebellion ended when RIEL’s Provisional Government accepted the terms of the Manitoba Act.


In 1869 daughter Nancy married Augustus McKENNEY, son of Lucy STOCKWELL and Augustus Joseph McKENNEY (b-1821).


On July 15,1870 Manitoba became the fifth province of Canada. The Rebellion was essentially over.


By 1870 after extensive travel, Reverend SETTEE had returned to Scanterbury and was serving as a missionary between there and Netley Creek (Petersfield area) during the early years of Confederation. The census of 1870 recorded him and his family in the St Peters Reserve; children at home were George (age 30), Albert (23), Jane (20), Elizabeth (16), Lydia (14) and Anne (age 11).


Petersfield - Scanterbury


In 1870 daughter Jane gave birth to an illegitimate child (William Augustus DURIE).  William Lawrence DURIE (1847-1885) was the father. DURIE was a soldier-surveyor from Ontario working under Colonel John Stoughton DENNIS (1820-1885) who played a major role in the Manitoba Métis Rebellion.



In 1870 daughter Elizabeth married Halford Spencer GOULDHAWKE, son of Frances and James GOULDHAWKE (1790-1839). ** MORE ABOUT HALFORD SPENCER GOULDHAWKE


In 1871 Chief Henry PRINCE or RED EAGLE (1819-1902) signed Treaty Number One on behalf of the St Peters Indians.



In 1871 son Albert married Mary MOORE of uncertain origins. (Perhaps she was a sister of Louisa who married Albert’s brother, John Richard)


Selkirk History: In the 1870's, two ministers, James SETTEE (an Indian) and half-breed Henry COCHRANE (1834-1898) were making rounds in St Peters, with SETTEE in the north and COCHRANE in the south.


In 1875 youngest daughter Henrietta married John McRAE, son of Charlotte SMITH & Duncan McRAE (1818-1896), the noted Stonemason of Red River. ** MORE ABOUT DUNCAN McRAE


Around 1875 daughter Jane became the second wife of John BOSKILL (1824-1890) from Ontario.


Prince Albert Territories


The 1881 Census places SETTEE and his wife in the Prince Albert district. With them is grandson Augustus DURIE (age 10).


Prince Albert - The Pas


Around 1881 daughter Lydia married Alexander SUTHERLAND, son of Elizabeth LOGAN and William SUTHERLAND (1806-1879). ** MORE ABOUT WILLIAM SUTHERLAND


In 1883 daughter Jane married Frank WHYTE (born 1851 in Ontario).


Boon: By 1887 SETTEE had returned to Red River, but that year he pleaded to be allowed to go to the troublesome mission at Jackhead, on the west side of Lake Winnipeg. He was first given permission to visit there periodically, and then to live there for a year. After that, for he was over 70, he lived with a son who was teaching school at East St Peters, but he continued to serve the area south of the lake.


Consecration of Bishoip Pinkam

Date: Aug 7, 1887 – Consecration of Bishop Pinkam
L-R back row: W.R. Mulock; Reverend O. Fortin (with sideburns); Reverend J.W. Tims; Reverend W. Spendlove;
Mr. Mathewson; Reverend J. SETTEE; Reverend W.A. Burman; Dean Grisdale; Reverend J. Irvine.
L-R middle row: Archdeacon Reeve; Reverend A.E. Cowley; Mr. Gilroy (in back);
Canon E.K. Matheson; Archdeacon McKay; Bishop W.C. Pinkham; Canon O'Mera; Reverend R. Phair;
J. Wrigley; Bishop Young; Archdeacon G. McKay.
 L-R front row: Mr. Wigram (on ground); Reverend F.E. Wigram; Bishop John Horden;
Bishop Robert Machray; Archdeacon Abraham Cowley; Doctor Thorold, Bishop of Rochester.


In 1891 several American newspapers featured this story: Winnipeg, Jan 28, 1891 – The Reverend J. SETTEE, missionary among the Indian tribes around Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, states that camps of Indians hunting on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, not far from Bloodvein River near Dog Head, were visited by a band of wolves, about 100 in number. They attacked the camps and killed many Indians and devoured them. One Indian killed 20 wolves; another Indian climbed up a tree with his gun and shot down 20. One got upon a stage which was not very high, and the wolves got him down and devoured him. There is a great panic among the Indians in that quarter. They say that there are no deer, consequently the wolves are ravenous, mad from hunger.


An interesting article in the Manitoba Morning Free Press, Oct 25, 1894: Reverend James SETTEE a full blooded Indian who ministers to his race in Manitoba, started from his home a week ago to visit Archdeacon KIRKLEY of Rye, New York whom he met when the archdeacon was a missionary in Canada. ** My note: The article has this wrong. This was actually Archeacon William West KIRKBY (1828-1907). Mr. SETTEE is 74 years old. On the way to Chicago he met a stranger who relieved him of his cash and left him penniless in that wicked city. The Indian preacher ran across Rev. Mr. RAWSON, whom he had met before, and was supplied with money enough to get to this city. When he reached New York on Saturday he did not know how to get to the Grand Central Depot. He asked a policeman and was directed to the station house where he says he was promptly locked up until morning. The next day a man accompanied the guileless preacher to the depot, bought him a ticket and gave him fifty cents, taking his watch as security. The man promised to return the watch to the Rye Rectory, but hasn’t done so yet. Reverend Jas. SETTEE, to whom this dispatch no doubt refers, is the oldest missionary of the CMS in the Winnipeg diocese. He is an aged man, being nearly 80 years of age. For many years he labored in the district of Lake Winnipeg, but during the last few years has been pensioned and not in active work.


Reverend James SETTEE Dies


On Mar 9, 1902 Reverend James SETTEE died at Lac du Bonnet.
From Winnipeg Free Press Obituary of a Nonagenarian, March 25, 1902: On Saturday last the mortal remains of the Rev. James Settee were laid to rest in St John’s Church Yard. - - When he had reached the age of 80 years he was placed on the superannuated list of the Society and was granted an annuity for the balance of his life. Though he was looked upon as a retired agent, the love of Christ still constrained him and old as he was, he never gave up active work for the Master he loved so well. Year after year found him making extended visits to distant points on Lake Winnipeg. - - As recently as last winter, shortly before his last illness, he returned from a voyage around Lake Winnipeg which he must have accomplished with great trials and hardships. - - Mr. Settee was an earnest and devoted missionary, with deep love for his Church Missionary Society, and a deeper love of the Saviour in whose service he had lived and died. Simple minded and humble as a child, gentle and affable in manner, he was universally beloved.


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On Jan 3, 1911 Sarah (nee COOK) SETTEE died at Lac du Bonnet. She was buried in the St Johns Cemetery in Winnipeg.
From an Obiturary: In the passing away at Lac du Bonnet of Mrs. James SETTEE, at the advanced age of 102, the province has lost one of its real old-timers. This remarkable old lady was born at Moose Lakie in 1808 and her descendants number 12 children, 69 grandchildren, and 70 great grandchildren. She married in 1830 the late Rev. James SETTEE, who died 10 years ago, and for a great many years accompanied him in his missionary work all over the north, until old age prevented them from continuing this noble work. - - The family surviving are: Rev. John SETTEE, Cumberland; Albert SETTEE, Fisher River; George SETTEE, Lac du Bonnet; James SETTEE, Cumberland; Mrs. McRAE, 150 Gladstone Street; city; Mrs SUTHERLAND, Lac du Bonnet; Mrs. COOK, Selkirk; Mrs WHITE, Lac du Bonnet; Mrs. McKINNEY, Selkirk.Also mentioned are Nieces: Mrs. J.H.G. BRAY of Medicine Hat (AB) and Mrs. Jules QUESNELLE and Mrs. P. O’HARE of Maple Creek (SK).


** Puzzling as to who Mrs. COOK was in Sarah’s obit.


Please post comments and queries at this link: FORUM DISCUSSING the REVEREND JAMES SETTEE FAMILY


============================== Family Details ==============================


1. 1836 JAMES SETTEE JR (m1. Elizabeth TODD, m2. Pricilla FLETT)


2. Sep 31, 1838 GEORGE SETTEE
3. 1840 MARY ANN SETTEE (m. James Robert SUTHERLAND)
5. 1847ALBERT SETTEE (m. Mary MOORE)
6. Feb 17, 1849 JANE ELLEN (Foster Child) SETTEE (m1. William DURIE, m2. John BOSKILL, m3. Frank WHYTE)
7. 1853 GEORGINA ALICE SETTEE (m1. John LOGAN, m2. Louis STAKA)


10. c1857 NANCY  CATHERINE SETTEE (m. Augustus “Gus” McKENNEY)
11. 1859 HENRIETTA SETTEE (m. John McRAE)