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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 and her young son John (born September 1880) came to Kingsbury County from 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 four children. Louis Bouchie died in 1894; he was buried in the De Smet cemetery, sharing a headstone with his brother Isaac.note

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. Around 1900, the Tubbs family moved to Lyon County, Minnesota; the couple was later divorced. Olive married a fourth time; she died in 1919. She 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.



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)