Canadian Ancestors

Milton's parents or my Great Great Great Grandparents were John S. and Mary Jane Foye.  John was born in about 1801 in Vermont.  The were were several families living in Vermont with the surname Foye, Foy or Fay according to the 1810 Federal Census for Vermont.  Mary was born in about 1800 in New Carlisle, Quebec, Canada.  Her maiden name was Morrison.  She was a widow of Henry Richard Kempffer also of New Carlisle.

John moved to Canada from Vermont at some point to live in New Carlisle, Quebec.  In 1832, John married Mary in New Carlisle.  John and Mary had six children while in Quebec.  The first child, Mary, was born in Restigouche River area in 1835.  The last child, Milton (my Great Great Grandfather) was born in Montreal in 1848.  The other children of John and Mary included in order of age:  Aporinda, Winthrop, Stephen and Alonzo.  John and Mary along with these six children left Canada to immigrate to the United States in about 1849.

There were two other girls and three boys in this family from Mary’s previous marriage to Henry.  The Kempffer boys remained in Canada.  The Kempffer daughters, Flora and Henrietta (named after her natural father) immigrated to the United States from Canada too.    

The Foye family entered the United States probably through a Port in northeastern United States because they were from southern part of Quebec.  John was born in the United States, but the other family members were born in Canada would have been naturalized.  An account of their travels by one of Aporinda's (John and Mary Foye's daughter) daughter, Orpha Moore, tells that they first settled in a wood choppers cabin that existed in what was known at that time as the Waukesha Woods.  According to the 1850 Federal Census for Eagle Township, Waukesha County, John 44 and his wife Mary 44 and all six children were part of this wood choppers cabin household.

While they were at the Waukesha Woods, Mary the first daughter of John and Mary, married Joseph Wright in 1852.  Joseph and Mary Wright had two daughters, Mary and Jennie.  The mother Mary Wright died while in Waukesha.  She is buried somewhere in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

John and Mary, their remaining five children, and Joseph Wright with his two children, all left Waukesha Woods in about 1854 to move into a log cabin near the Big Springs in Springdale Township, Dane County, Wisconsin.  They appear in the 1860 Federal Census for Springdale Township, Dane County, John 54 and his wife Mary 52 still had LM (=Alonzo) 16, Milton 12 and granddaughter Mary Wright (third generation Mary) age 4 were part of the household.  John and Mary raised five children along with with their son-in-law, Joseph Wright, and his children in this small log cabin.  Joseph Wright eventually sold his interest in the properties to John and Mary and moved to northern Wisconsin. 

John and Mary eventually built a home in the Village of Mount Vernon for their retirement and rented the Big Springs cabin to others.  The 1870 Federal Census for Springdale Township, Dane County, Wisconsin shows the elderly John and Mary Foye living alone next to their son Alonzo Foye and family.  The Grandchildren, Mary and Jennie were living with the Alonzo family.

An account of the Foye's log cabin and related properties was prepared by Charles Gehard while doing research into the historic landowners of the Donald Park, Dane County, Wisconisn.  John and Mary Foye along with their son-in-law, Joseph Wright, purchased the Springdale Township properties in 1854.  The Big Springs cabin was apparently built by George Patchin, an early settler of the Mount Vernon area, sometime between 1846 and 1848.  The cabin was sold to and used for short periods by the Hubbards, then the Smiths before being purchased by the Foyes. 

The Big Springs log cabin burned down in 1893.  The occupants at that time were the Martys.  It is reported that the Martys relocated into an out building on John and Mary’s oldest son, Stephan or Steven, property.  Stephan had previously purchased 10 acres on the north side of Highway 92 from his father and mother and build a cabin on it. 

John died in 1874.  John is buried at the Mount Vernon Cemetery on County Trunk G.  Mary went to live with her daughter’s family, Mr. and Mrs. John and Arporinda Chandler, in Primrose Township, Dane County, Wisconsin.  Mary died in 1886.  Mary is buried next to John.  The 1880 Federal Census for Primrose Township, Dane County, Wisconsin shows Grandmother Mary Foye in the Chandler household. 

Figure 9 .  Tombstones of John and Mary Foye,
Mount Vernon Cemetery, Dane County, Wisconsin.

An account of the Mount Vernon area was prepared by Mount Horeb, Wisconsin Historical Society.  There were only about dozen families living around the Village of Mount Vernon when John and Mary’s family took up residence in the Big Spring cabin.  Most of the land around Mount Vernon was apparently purchased by the Hale Brothers from Winnebago Indians back in 1829.  The Big Springs was known for its cool fresh water which fed into an abundant trout stream called Mount Vernon creek.  The area must of had bountiful natural resources to help support these early settlers and farmers.  The Big Springs became a popular swimming place during the heat of the summer. 

Some of the properties in the Mount Vernon creek valley are now owned by the Dane County Park Board and operated as Donald Park with many recreational opportunities.  The foundation remains of the burned down Foye cabin and other homestead features such as the stones that made up a cellar, and apple trees can still be seen in the Park at the cabin site.  Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Donald Park, this cabin site was registered as a Wisconsin archeological site (Foy Homestead reference number DA-1188).  This site is preserved because there are not many examples of early Wisconsin farmsteads that were present in advance of the dairy farms that began to develop during the mid 1800's by the European immigrants.


Donald, W.J. 1877.  History of Madison, Dane County and the Surroundings.  Wm. J. Pack and Company

Gerhard, Charles.  2002.  Home Sites before 1873 within the Boundaries of Donald Park, Town of Springdale. URL- Accessed 2005

Federal Censuses.  Accessed 2005

Moore, Orpha.  1948.  Essay (page 89) in Centennial History of the Township of Springdale 1848 - 1948.  Wisconsin State Historical Library catalog number F89 S683 P66

Mount Horeb Historical Society.  Town of Mount Vernon history. URL-  Accessed 2005

Quebec National Archives microfilm #M-177.23.  1832.  Registers of the Anglican Church serving New Carlisle and Paspebiac

Quebec National Archives microfilm #M-177.24.  1835.  Registers of the Presbyterian Church serving the north side of Restigouche River

Figure 10 .  The John Foye property illustrated in the 1873 Springdale Township, Dane County, Wisconsin plat map.  The Big Springs Cabin (a small black square) is shown near the confluence of the Big Springs Stream and Mount Vernon Creek in the bottom right part of the illustration.  John's oldest son, Stephen, cabin is show near Highway 92 in the upper right part of the illustration.

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Last updated November 23, 2005