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Bouchard, James


Missionary, orator; b. Muskagola, near Leavenworth, Kansas, c. 1823; d. San Francisco, California, Dec. 27, 1889. Bouchard's mother, also surnamed Bouchard, was of French ancestry; she had been captured by Native Americans and adopted into the Delaware Tribe with the name of Monotowan (White Fawn). Her marriage to a Delaware brave called Kistalwa resulted in the birth of a son whose tribal name was Watomika (Swift Foot). After his father's death in a skirmish with the Sioux in 1834, Watomika was taken by a Protestant missionary to Marietta College, Ohio, where he studied for the Presbyterian ministry. While visiting St. Louis, Missouri in late 1846 or early 1847, he was converted to Catholicism by the Jesuit missionary Arnold Damen. Bouchard entered the Jesuits at Florissant, Missouri on July 29, 1848, and was ordained on Aug. 5, 1855, in St. Francis Xavier's College Church, St. Louis. He was the first Native American to be ordained in the United States. After several years of ministry in the Midwest, he was assigned to California. He arrived in San Francisco on Aug. 16, 1861, and was soon in demand as a retreat master, pulpit orator, and lecturer. He was asked to preach at the dedications of St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Los Angeles (1876), and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento (1889), and also spoke on public issues such as the Chinese question in California. In addition to his speaking engagements, he devoted himself to missionary activity in the mining camps and towns of the Mother Lode section of California.

Bibliography: j. b. mcgloin, Eloquent Indian: The Life of James Bouchard, California Jesuit (Stanford 1949).

[j. b. mcgloin]

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