Jude Bourassa was born April 19, 1814 near the Galien River in southwest Michigan. He was the third son of Daniel Bourassa II and Theotis Pisange. With his older brother Joseph Napoleon, Jude was enrolled at the school at Carey Mission, under the instruction of Baptist missionaries Dr. Johnston Lykins and Reverend Isaac McCoy. An apt pupil, Jude was invited to attend the Hamilton Literary & Theological Institution in New York at the age of 12. In 1831, he and Joseph transferred to the Choctaw Academy at White Sulphur Springs, Kentucky, studying commerce and civics. In the 1826 Treaty of Mississinewa, Jude was granted one quarter section of land in Indiana for being both an Indian at birth and scholar in the Carey Mission School. On June 21, 1833 Jude married Catherine Charet and the couple had 10 children. Quickly selling his Indiana land after receiving it, he later petitioned the local court and federal government in 1837 to dissolve the sale and reinstate ownership. He argued that he was not of legal age and ill-advised during the sale. This attempt to avoid removal was unsuccessful, as the sale was upheld, and Jude and his family were forced to immigrate to Kansas in 1840. In Kansas, Jude operated the grist mill on the Potawatomi reservation and received a government stipend for providing lodging to travelers on the Oregon Trail. Several accounts illustrate the successful entrepreneur Jude had become. Visiting Jude’s home in 1854, William H. Hutter, wrote about the impressive amenities.
“On our return trip we found a comfortable double Indian house, of logs of course, one end of which serves the purpose of a better bedroom, and also of a parlor to entertain guests. That end was given us with two good beds, a blazing fire in the chimney, and imported carpet on the floor and a handsome modern Piano in the room. We had a capital supper, and in the evening, prevailed on Mr. Bourassa to bring his daughter Isabella in to play for us.”
With Jude regularly attending to migrants on the Oregon Trail, he contracted smallpox and died at Union Town, Kansas in 1857.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center. 2005. Bourassa Family Manuscripts