Some years ago, my father gave me a several-generation copy of a
newspaper article dated 4 Nov 1937. Some of the words are unreadable. The
name of the paper and where published are not noted.
Retsil Resident Buys First Ticket Over N.P. Railway
By Mike Duncan
The purchaser of the first railroad ticket issued for passage between New
York City and the Pacific Northwest lives peacefully today in the Retsil
Louis Hennequin, 75, French-born veteran of the U. S. Army, recently
recalled memorable incidents of his history-making, transcontinental passage
from the effete East to then then wild and timbery Puget sound area.
Narrating the trip made 54 years ago this month, Hennequin said:
"I bought the ticket in Nov. 1883--the month that the Northern Pacific
Railway was opened to Portland, Ore. The New York Ticket agent, who had been
agent for a steamship line, wrote out my ticket in pen and ink." The greying
veteran related that he promptly protested this unorthodox manner of issuing
transportation tokens, but was finally convinced that this hand-written day
coach was good for the 3,000-mile trip to Portland.
Continuing, Hennequin said: "There was no dining car on the train so I
bought a large [----]. I soon regretted it--the [----] was uncooked."
Arriving at St. Paul, Minn., beginning of Northern Pacific trackage,
Hennequin succeeded in trading the obnoxious hand-written railroad ticket
for a more formal printed passenger fare certificate. Then, after "changing
cars," the youthful French immigrant continued his transcontinental trek by
rail. This latter was to be even more eventful than the first.
Soon after the train passed the sole oak tree seen on the buffalo
bone-strewn steel trail across Dakota territory, the wood-burning iron horse
was "reined" in to allow passengers to hunt antelope. Hennequin relates that
this hunt was unsuccessful. Later, a similar stop was made in Montana.
Hennequin says that prairie dogs were the only victims of this second
Continuing the journey, near the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the train was
again halted--a still-steaming locomotive had been derailed so close to the
main line that passage of Hennequin's train was impossible. The ingenious
pioneers removed this obstacle by shifting the main line with crowbars a few
feet, enabling the westbound train to curve around the wreck.
Hennequin added: "While we were climbing the Rockies, our coach broke away
from the train. It was three hours before the crew came back for our stranded
Hennequin arrived in Portland, Ore., then the end of the Northern Pacific
trackage, on Nov. 2, 1883 - the transcontinental jaunt having taken 243
From Portland, the adventurous French youth traveled to Tacoma over the
historic Columbia River and Puget Sound Railroad; then by steamer to
After working in a [----] iron foundry a year, the 22-year-old French
immigrant -- who had been a spectator of the Franco-Prussian
War at the age of eight -- enlisted in the 14th U. S. Infantry, hoping
to see action against marauding Apache tribes in Arizona. Ironically,
Hennequin recalled he was stationed at Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory,
for the duration of the Apache war. "My army service wasn't as exciting as
my first train trip," he ruefully related. To make life interesting once
more, he began practicing the watchmaker trade in which he had served a
French apprenticeship when 14 years of age. Hennequin has followed this
trade since being discharged from the U.S. Army.
After having been a childhood spectator of the war between his native
France and Prussia, he journeyed over much of the world, labored in olden
iron foundries, and army service; Hennequin today believes that the
history-making cross-country train trip he took just 54 years ago, is the
highlight of his eventful life.
"Louie" Hennequin is one of many interesting characters now residing at
the Washington State Veterans Home in Retsil. A childhood spectator of the
war between his native France and Prussia; he craved army experience on his
arrival in America and served with honor, but he is naturally versatile and
worked at the jewelry trade as well as some of the first steel mills and
foundries to be located on Puget Sound, then Washington Territory. He
declares, however, that none of his experience in the early west compares
with his first big adventure of that history-making train trip just 54 years
During Louis Hennequin's pioneer career in the territory of Washington,
he was affiliated with organized labor. He participated in the fisherman's
strike at Astoria in 1885 and was a member of the Knights of Labor at
Birth Record of Louis Hennequin
The following record was found and translated from the French by Louis'
great-great grandson, Daniel Raillant-Clark. The record can be found at
Hannequin François Louis
In the year eighteen hundred sixty two, the twenty-third of January, at five
in the evening, before us Mouillesaux (?) Nicolas, mayor, civil registrar of
the town of Châlonvillars, in the canton of Héricourt, Haute
Saône, appeared at the town hall Hannequin Louis, aged thirty years,
employed as a baker and living in Châlonvillars, presenting a male
infant born in his home the twenty-first day of January eighteen hundred
sixty-two, at ten in the evening, to him (who is making this declaration)
and to Dravigney Marie-Thérèse, aged twenty-nine years,
employed as a seamstress, living in Châlonvillars, his wife, and to
whom he gave the names François-Louis. Said declaration and
presentation were done in the presence of Dravigney Jean-Baptiste aged
thirty-three years, employed as a carpenter, living in Châlonvillars,
uncle of the newborn, first witness, and [in the presence of] Parisot
Alexis, aged thirty-one years, employed as a farmer, living in
Châlonvillars, cousin of the newborn, second witness. By virtue of
which we proceeded to draw up this act, and after having read it to those
making the delcaration and their witnesses, it was immediately signed by
them and by us.
[signatures of J Dravigney, Parisot, Mouillesaux the mayor]
Louis served in Company D of the 14th U.S. Infantry. The following is
found at Find A Grave Memorial #38303524:
Louis Hennequin was the son of Louis and Mary T. (Dravigney)
He died February 5, 1940 at the Washington Veterans' Home and is buried in
the Home Cemetery there. He was 78 years old. A veterans' file could not
be located for him. His obituary was published in the Bremerton Sun,
February 7, 1940, pg. 8:
Louis F. Hennequin Funeral Held Today.
Louis F. Hennequin, 78, resident of the Washington Veterans' home since
1930, died Monday at the Veterans' hospital of a heart ailment. Services
were held at 2 o'clock this afternoon at the Retsil chapel, followed by
burial at the home cemetery under direction of Pendleton funeral
Hennequin, who was born in France in Jan. 21, 1862, served in Co. D, 14th U.
S. infantry, from Oct. 4, 1886, to Oct. 4, 1888. A daughter, Mrs.
Louise Johnston, [sic] Point Loma, Cal, survives. [obituary courtesy of
Washington State Library's Ask A Librarian service].
Louis and Marguerite Steward had the following
||Born Watsonville, Santa Cruz county CA, 7 Aug 1896
and died 4 May 1938 in Russell City (now in Hayward), CA. She had
illegitimate daughter, Margaret (born Maggie Mae, aka Rita) in Lake
County, CA, 22 Dec 1912, and married in Sonoma County, 27 Aug 1917, to
Albert Ernest Meecham. Albert, born 1886 in England, is found (married)
living with his sister's family on the 1920 census. He's living with
his parents in San Francisco (divorced) on the 1930 census. "Adele
Meecham" is found as roomer (22, divorced) and working as a waitress in
Sacramento on the 1920 census. Adeline married secondly Guy Albert
Rollier. The couple is found living in Oakland, Alameda County, CA on
the 1930 census. Margaret is with them, age 17, as are children Ruth
and Louis. Guy died 13 February 1975 in Alameda County.
|Marguerite Theresa Hennequin
||Born 17 Apr 1899 in Watsonville, Santa Cruz co CA
and died 3 Jan 1945. She married first ___ Webb, 2nd on 29 May 1924 to
John Joseph O'Keefe, and third to Russell Edwin Nees, with whom she had
sons Robert and Russell. Find A Grave Memorial# 32711842.
|Marie Henrietta Hennequin
||Marie was born 26 Jul 1900 in Torrington CT and died
30 Dec 1940 in San Leandro, Alameda co CA. She married McCabe Cooley.
|Louise Frances Hennequin
||Born 11 Oct 1903 in Cottage Grove OR, died 24 Apr
1985 in Orange county CA. She married J Milford Johnson.
- 1881: Immigrated to the U.S.
- 1880s: Served in the U.S. Army
- 1891: Married in Oregon
- 1896, 7 August: Birth of daughter Adeline Mary, Watsonville, California
- 1899, 17 April: Birth of daughter Marguerite Theresa, Watsonville
- 1900, 9 March: Sold home in Watsonville
- 1900: Appears in Torrington, CT Federal census
- 1900, 16 July: Birth of daughter Marie Henrietta, Torrington, CT
- 1902: Appears as "Louis Frank Hennequin" in the Great Register of California, Mendocino County1
- 1903, 11 October: Birth of daughter Louise Frances, Cottage Grove, OR
- 1903: Moves to Lakeport, Lake County, California
- 1904: Becomes U.S. citizen
- 1907, 7 October: Bought two lots of land, Lakeport, Lake County, California
- 1924, 13 March: Released from San Quinten
- 1925: Sells Lakeport land and travels to France
- 1926: Returns from France
- 1930: Living in Veterans Home of Napa County, CA
- 1937: Living in Old Soldiers Home, Retsil, Washington
- 1940, 5 February: Dies in Retsil
Louis's granddaughter, Lexie Johnson, sent the following, undated, to my
father. It appears to have
been written by her mother, Louise Frances Hennequin Johnson. It's worth
noting that the story of his army service is different than that which Louis
himself described. There was no battle, for example.--A warning there to
all family historians.
Louis Francois Hennequin
Parents lived thru Franco-Prussian war on horsemeat - he was 8 then.
Father was a baker. At 14 came to America - alone, enclisted [sic] in US
Infantry to fight Apachee [sic] in Arizona Indian Wars, Calvary. Injured in
battle, caused limp for life. After discharge because of injury, went back
to watchmaking trade - to which he had been an apprentice in France.
Followed this trade for life.
Purchased first railroad ticket issued between New York City and the
Northwest - 1883. (November). On trip, train stopped twice to hunt antelope,
plus many stops to let buffalo pass. Trip took 243 hours. Worked in foundry
in Seattle for awhile. Trip to France in June 1925.
The following was written by Louis's grandson, Russell Nees, date
Louis Frances [sic] Hennequin
Came to USA when 19 from Belfort (Normandy) France. He and his father
were watchmakers. His brothers became priests. Entered the East Coast and
moved to Oregon. Joined the Indian War and became a citizen.
Belfort, of course, is not in Normandy.
Louis is found on the 1930 census living at the Veterans Home in Napa
County, California. Oddly, heis listed as not being a veteran!
1930 > CALIFORNIA > NAPA > VETERANS HOME OF CALIFORNIA
Series: T626 Roll: 180 Page: 237
The Truth About Louis Hennequin
Background: I've known most of my life that my great-grandmother,
Marguerite (Stordeur) Hennequin spent the last years of her life in
California State Hospitals. It turns out that schizophrenia runs deep in
that family, going back at least to the birth of her own grandfather in 1820.
I discovered in 2013 that she was committed in the spring of 1912 and
that nine months later—almost to the day—her oldest daughter,
Adele, gave birth to an illegitimate child. A grand jury convened but no
charges were filed. Committals, as well as grand jury proceeding where no
charges results, I was told by the Lake County courts, are sealed. I'd not
been able to find anything more.
But in 2016 my cousin Daniel found Louis Hennequin's prison records. That
prompted me to return to Lake County in July 2017. The following newspaper
articles were found in the microfilm cabinets. We'd known the first part of
the first article for about a year but we didn't know the circumstances. I
felt saddened, perplexed, and curious to know more, but the last part is new
to us. I'm now pissed. Louis's offense was not a one-off.
17 October 1917, The Lake County Bee
Hennequin Will Doubtless Pay For Crime of Incest
Last week Louis Hennequin, the Frenchman living west of town who was
thought to be the father of a child born to his eldest daughter some four or
more years ago, but who escaped the penalty for the crime because of the
refusal of the daughter to testify against him, was brought to the county
jail and awaits a hearing before the local justice which will be held
tomorrow. It is said that that the daughter has since her marriage
recently, made an affidavit acknowledging the attack by her father. The
charge of incest will undoubtedly be put against him.
Following the marriage of the eldest daughter and her departure from
home Hennequin brought his youngest daughter, a girl of 14, back from San
Francisco to live with him.
Hennequin has forced the little girl to work in the prune picking and
kept her out of school, which is illegal for one of her age. His wife is at
the state hospital in Talmage. Public feeling ran high against the man ran
high during the first incident.
31 October 1917, The Lake County Bee
[Supreme Court] Says Indeterminate Sentence Law
Ukiah Attorney to Make Test of the New Law
Branding the indeterminate sentence law as unconstitutional in the
it purports to delegate to the State Board of Prison Directors the authority
of pronouncing sentence upon men convicted of felonies, a Ukiah attorney has
filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of
Marin County in behalf of Charles Lee, recently convicted of manslaughter in
the Superior Court of Mendocino County and sentenced for a period of from
one to ten years in San Quentin prison. The writ was denied by Judge Edgar
T. Zook, so that the case, recognized as a test case, might go directly to
the Superior Court.
As Louis Hennequin was this week given an indeterminate sentence in
the Lake County Superior Court, the decision of the Supreme Court will be
awaited with interest locally.
17 April 1918, The Lake County Bee
Nine Years for Hennequin
Sheriff Lon McKelley went to San Quentin, Saturday, and brought
Louis Hennequin back for resentence. Hennequin was sent down on an
indeterminate sentence for the crime of incest, but a recent ruling of the
Supreme Court invalidates indeterminate sentences in the case where the
offense was committed prior to the time such law went into effect,
therefore, the above action was necessary.
Judge M. S. Sayre passed a new sentence this morning, and in
consideration of the fact that Hennequin had served over six months, His
Honor commuted the sentence to nine years, which would be equivalent to ten
years in the original sentence.
Photos contributed by Daniel Raillant-Clark
Other U.S. Hennequins
Louis Hennequin immigrated to the U.S. in 1881. He was well-settled,
living in Watsonville, Santa Cruz county, California in 1900, but moved his
two young daughters and pregnant wife to Torrington, Connecticut that same
year. He appears, with his family, on the U.S. Federal census, living at 57 French St.
Only a couple of blocks away, at 41 New Litchfield St., is listed the family
of Constant Henequin, born November 1855 in France.
Constant's family as of 1900, all born in France:
Eliza, wife, born Aug 1860
Alfred, son, born Sep 1883
Abel, son, born Nov 1884
Camil, son, born Jan 1885
Flora, dau, born Aug 1886
Stephen, son, born Jun 1890
Mary, dau, born Aug 1892
The following family is found on the 1920 Soundex living at 28 Cottage St,
Alfred Hennequin, 57, born France, immigrated 1895
Mary, wife, 49, France
Alfred, son, 20, CT
Louis, son, 19, CT
Raymond, son, 15, CT
Ralph, son, 12, CT
Alfred was naturalized in 1916.
Constant and Alfred arrived at Ellis Island, 11 May 1895, on the ship La
435 Heimequin, Constane M 38 France
436 Heimequin, Elsie F 34 France
437 Heimequin, Lidia F 10 France
438 Heimequin, Alfred M 7 France
439 Heimequin, Abel M 6 France
440 Heimequin, Camille M 5 France
441 Heimequin, Flavion M 3 France
442 Heimequin, Marie F 2 France
445 Heimequin, Alfred M 32 France
Other names found at Ellis Island relevent to this family:
- Joseph and Louis "Henneguin", ages 25 and 20 respectively, arrived Dec
21, 1903, destination Torrington, visiting "Uncle Hennequin Constant 114
Main St." "Last residence" looks like "Lomont".
- Constant "Henneguin", resident of Courmont, France, arrived 3 Mar 1901,
destination Torrington to "Return at home familly." Apparently accompanying
him was Alfred Henneguin, age 13, a resident of Orcey, France, destination
New York, "Home in his familly." This is the same Constant, of course,
returning from a trip back home. Alfred may have been another of his
- Alfred Hennequin, age 58, arrived 25 April 1921, naturalized citizen
living at 28 Calkad St, South Manchester, CT. Undoubtedly, Constant's
apparent brother returning from a trip to France.
- Bertha Hennquin, age 17, resident of Courmont, France, arriving 9 Jun
1901. Visiting Uncle Ern.(?) Laine(?). I doubt I'm reading that name close
to what it should be. But it certainly isn't Constant or Alfred.
There are a lot of listings for Hennequin and variant spellings, including
arrivals from the U.K., Holland and Belgium.
Additional census and Soundex readings:
A cursory check of the Soundex for 1900 turned up a Gustav Heniken, born in
Belgium, living in New Haven, Connecticut.
Constant "Hennequen", age 62, appears on the 1920 census living at 366 High
St., Torrington, CT. Living with him are, all born in France:
Elsie, wife, 59
Stephen, son, 29
A quick look through the 1920 Soundex found the following:
Contant's son, Abel, living at 25 Seymour St., Torrington:
Abel Henaquin, 34, France
Elizabeth, wife, 29, New York
Edward, son, 8, Connecticut
Elizabeth, dau, 5, Connecticut
A granddaughter of Edward's has told me that Edward died in 1990. Elizabeth,
as of this date (March, 2003), is still living.
Constant's son, Alfred "Henaquin", is found living in the 1920
census, with his young family at 410 High St., Torrington. I made no further
His son, Camille "Henaquin" with wife Rose and family, living a 8
High St. I made no further notes.
Additionally, I found an Edward Hanaquin, living in Winchester, CT, 30 years
old, born in Connecticut, living with mother Jelia, 70, also born in
The following is found in the 1908/09 Torrington City Directory:
Hennequin Abel emp C B Mfg Co bds 12 High
" Camille E emp Perkins Electric Co bds 120 High
" Constant carp h 120 High
" Fred emp T Mfg Co bds 120 High
Louis Hennequin's siblings are well-documented. Louis and Constant were not
brothers. But why did Louis move his family 3,000 miles away and end up
within blocks on Constant--and only to return to California a few years
Bob Dougherty, email@example.com, is researching yet another
Connecticut Hennequin family. This is from his post, found at
Lucine "Lucy" Chagnot LaValette came to America in 1882 with husband
Theodore LaValette and their two children. They had five more children after
they arrived. Their daughter Marie or Maria was born in France and came with
them. Louis Hennequin married their daughter Mary LaValette (born possibly
in Colchester) in October 1905 in Manchester and she died before 1910. I
have no idea when Louis came to America or who he came with, but he went
back to France (or so the rumor has it) after her death leaving children
Walter Louis Hennequin and Arthur Henniquin behind with family.
Lucine's parents were John B. Chagnot and Victoria (?) Chagnot.
Louis Hennequin's parents were August Hennequin and Augusta Chagnot.
So, we have:
- Louis Francois Hennequin, son of Louis Hennequin, immigrating in 1881
and living in Connecticut in 1900.
- Louis Hennequin, son of August Hennequin, in Connecticut before 1905.
- Possible brothers, Constant and Alfred Hennequin, both residing in
Connecticut, and arriving in the U.S. in 1895.
- Sundry other Hennequins living in Connecticut by the early 20th century.
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -