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Joseph Bouchie family

Family associated with the first school taught by Laura Ingalls; she taught and boarded with children of Joseph Bouchie, fictionalizing the family name as Brewster for publication.

[Laura] had seen Mr. Brewster only once, when he came to hire her to teach the school. He was thin and brown, like any homesteader; he did not have much to say for himself. -These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 1, “Laura Leaves Home”

Clarence Bouchie (1872-1902)

Joseph H. Bouchie was born in Waterloo, Quebec, Canada in May 1838, the son of Louis Bouchie and Rebecca Boast. Joseph was married twice; he married his first wife, Mary Ann Law, in September 1858. Joseph and Mary Ann had six children: Louis (born 1859); twins Mary Rebecca and Elizabeth Ann (born 1861; Elizabeth died about a year later); Lucy (born 1861); Isaac (born 1865); and Elizabeth Jane (born 1867).

The Bouchies immigrated to the United States in 1867, settling in Grundy County, Iowa. Several of Joseph’s relatives came to the United States when he did, among them his brothers Robert and William plus their first cousins George Boast and his brother Robert. Robert Boast became the “Mr. Boast” character of the De Smet Little House books.

Following the death of his wife Mary Ann, Joseph Bouchie parceled his children out to neighbors in Grundy County and none would live with their father permanently after their mother’s death.

In 1870, Joseph Bouchie married his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Currier. They had six children born in Iowa: Clarence (born August 1872); Fannie Ruth (born November 1873); Alma (born 1875); Cora (born 1876); Earl (born 1878); and Mabel (born 1880).

In 1880, the Joseph Bouchie family moved to Pierce County, Nebraska. There, Joseph’s daughter Lucy was married. Elizabeth Bouchie gave birth to daughter Lena in Plainview, Nebraska, in May 1882. Shortly after Lena’s birth, the Bouchie family headed north to Kingsbury County, Dakota Territory.

Joseph Bouchie, his wife Elizabeth, and their seven children settled on a homestead claim in June 1882. Joseph built a shanty, but he later built a substantial farmhouse on additional property purchased nearby. Children born in Kingsbury County included Laura (born 1885), Tina (born 1899), and a child born in 1900 who died young.

Isaac Bouchie came to Kingsbury County from Iowa in 1883 to help his father on the homestead, and legal guardianship was returned to his father at that time. Isaac died July 14, 1884. During an argument between half-brothers Clarence and Isaac, Clarence Bouchie threw a bone at Isaac, wounding him on the cheek and infecting him with tetanus. Eleven days later, Isaac died at the home of his brother, Louis. Clarence and his mother were charged in Isaac’s death. You can read some of the trial documents HERE. Clarence Bouchie died in 1902, the result of an accidental gunshot wound while on a hunting trip.

Joseph and Elizabeth Bouchie and their children continued to live in Kingsbury County, moving to the town of De Smet in the 1890s. Joseph Bouchie died in January 1918, at age 79. Elizabeth Bouchie died in March 1919, at age 65. The Bouchies and many of their children are buried in the De Smet cemetery.

Standing on Joseph Bouchie’s preemption claim, looking towards the site of the Bouchie School.



Louis (1859-1894) & Lib (1859-1919) Bouchie

Louis H. Bouchie. In April 1882, Louis Bouchie filed on a preemption claim in Manchester Township, Kingsbury County. In the fall of 1882, Olive (Lib) Morrison – born Olive Delilah Isenberger – and her young son John (born September 1880) came to Kingsbury County from Grundy County, Iowa. In November 1882, Olive made first filing as “a farmer’s daughter” on a homestead in Kingsbury County. That same day, Louis Bouchie filed on the quarter section adjoining Olive’s to the west.

On Christmas Day 1882, Louis Bouchie and Olive Morrison were married, and they wintered on Louis’s preemption claim in Manchester Township. In January 1883, Louis paid for his land, which he sold in early February. March 1883, Olive and Louis Bouchie moved to their homesteads, living in a two-room shanty located on the line separating the two claims. It was here that Laura Ingalls boarded with the family while teaching the Bouchie School (fictional Brewster School) the following winter. In her Pioneer Girl memoir, Laura Ingalls Wilder used the Bouchie name.

Olive and Louis had sons Leonard and Marvin, and a daughter, Iva. Louis Bouchie died in 1894; he was buried in the De Smet cemetery, sharing a headstone with his brother Isaac.

Following Louis Bouchie’s death, Olive returned to Iowa for several years. There she married Frank Tubbs and they moved to Olive’s homestead in Kingsbury County; they had daughters Hazel, Hattie, and Blanche. Around 1900, the Tubbs family moved to Lyon County, Minnesota, and were divorced after a few years. Olive was married a fourth time, in Todd County, Minnesota, on Christmas Day 1908, to Israel Josiah Crabtree. (Lib was Josiah’s fifth wife and he was her fourth husband.) She died in a Minneapolis hospital in February 1919, and was buried in the De Smet Cemetery beside Louis Bouchie.

The Bouchie – Boast Connection. Joseph Bouchie and Robert Boast were first cousins. They had the same grandfather (Joseph Boast, born 1794). Joseph Bouchie’s mother, Rebecca Boast, was the sister of Robert Boast’s father, Richard Boast.

Joseph Bouchie’s eldest son was Louis Bouchie; Laura Ingalls boarded with him while teaching the Bouchie School. Robert Boast was Louis Bouchie’s first cousin, once removed. Chart at right shows the relationships between the various Bouchie and Boast family members.



Bouchie School Site. If you’ve got an extra hour or so to drive out in the country and don’t mind gravel roads, you loop from De Smet to Manchester, then four miles south on 425th Avenue to 212th Street and turn east. A half mile east on the north side of the road is where the Harvey Dunn schoolhouse originally sat. The site isn’t marked; you can tour the original schoolhouse on the grounds of the Depot Museum in De Smet. It may seem like it’s awfully close to where Laura taught the Bouchie School, but Kingsbury County was originally divided into over ninety school districts (usually about nine sections of land in size), each to have its own schoolhouse. This was done so that children didn’t have to walk more than three miles to school! Laura taught the Bouchie school in a claim shanty, and the schoolhouse later built in the Bouchie district was a couple of miles to the south. The Dow Cemetery used to be hard to spot just north of the road a mile from 424th Avenue and was neglected for decades, but in recent years, a sign and access gate have been added (no more crawling under barbed wire fences). Many members of the Dow family from Wisconsin settled in this area near Redstone Creek, including Nathan Dow (who married Grace Ingalls), and Nate’s father, uncles, and brothers-in-law.

Two miles past the Dow cemetery on the north side of the road was Dave Gilbert’s homestead, where Laura taught the Bouchie School. Joseph Bouchie’s homestead was the next claim to the east. Where Laura lived with Louis & Lib Bouchie is a mile and a half to the south, but those quarter sections are land-locked. Gilbert’s shanty was only used as the schoolhouse for one term; a schoolhouse was built on the northwest corner of Section 35. When Kingsbury County returned to district school organization from the township system they used for several years (where one school board was responsible for all schools in a civil township), Joseph Bouchie resumed directorship of the school, a position he held until 1900.

If you continue three and a half miles east, you’ll pass the rarely mentioned tree claim that Charles Ingalls held in 1884-1885. The tree claim is a half mile west of Highway 25 on the south side of the road. 212th Street continues east across Highway 25 between Lakes Henry and Thompson. Note the name Niels Anderson on the map; this is the claim that Almanzo Wilder and Cap Garland went to for the wheat in The Long Winter. Although Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that both the Bouchie School and the Hard Winter wheat settler were 12 miles from De Smet, they were each located about half that distance from town. Note that a quarter section claim is a half mile on each side in size, and on the aerial below, you can differentiate square quarter sections easily from each other. Laura most likely was remembering the number of claims or half miles, not miles. Because there’s only street signs and a sign on the Dow cemetery to guide you, use your car’s odometer to measure distance. Note fences and the land itself to spot changes every half mile or mile. Note, too, that roads are on section lines and run east/west (streets) or north/south (avenues), and are numbered in sequence.



I’ve done extensive research on the Bouchie family and the schools taught by Laura Ingalls. More information can be found in my 2015 monograph, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Education in Kingsbury County, Dakota Territory, 1880-1885. Published and sold by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, all proceeds go to help support the Ingalls-Wilder heritages in De Smet. To order, click HERE.


Bouchie family (fictional Brewster family)
     Joseph & Elizabeth (PG)
     Isaac / Clarence / Fannie Ruth, children of Joseph (Clarence, Ruby, Tommy in PG)
     death of Clarence (PG)

Bouchie family (fictional Brewster family)
     Louis & Lib (PG)
     Johnny, son of Lib, see also Morrison, John (her – Mrs. Bouchie’s – little boy in PG)

Brewster family, see Bouchie family
     Lewis (LTP 25; THGY 1-12)
     Lib (THGY 1-7, 9)
     Johnny (THGY 1-5, 7, 9), see Morrison, John
     Mr. Brewster’s brother (THGY 2-3), see Bouchie, Joseph
     Clarence (THGY 2-7, 9-10), see Bouchie, Isaac
     Tommy (THGY 2-3, 5-6, 10), see Bouchie, Clarence
     Ruby (THGY 2-6, 10) , see Bouchie, Fannie Ruth
     school (THGY 3-4, 10, 11)
     settlement (THGY 1, 28)