Variations of Trotochaud surname

Trotochaud surname, its possible meaning, variable spellings and translation into Odawa


The surname "Trotochaud" is pronounced, in French, the same as the French phrase "trop de chaud", which means "too hot."

Native speakers of Odawa were not normally able to pronounce the phonemes rendered as "r," "l," "f," and "v". I have found no evidence that Jean B. Trotochaud was literate, and therefore he would have been unable to spell his name to anyone filling out a form. Jean worked for Bishop Frederic Baraga as a carpenter. The Bishop was literate in at least five languages, and was one of the few to spell the name "Trotochaud" correctly, this was in Baraga's Diary. One of the parish records I found for Angeline Trotochaud Naganse rendered her maiden name as "Trodojeau", which would be pronounced almost the same as "Trotochaud" - but there is no evidence this surname was ever actually written down by anyone else.  Most likely the record-keeper knew the French language, but was not familiar with less common French surnames. An entry in the Leelanau County register of death shows a "Frodojeau" child who died in the 1870's. This spelling is almost certainly due to an erroneous transcription of an excessively ornate cursive capital "T" of the style so admired and emulated in the 19th century. There is at least one other record of the name in which "F" is substituted for a "T" in transcription.

As the French influence waned in the Great Lakes, there would have been fewer literate people able to spell a French surname correctly from the sound of it. The name has been rendered as "Tro-to-chow," "Trotasho," "Trotesho", "Troteschaud," "Trotterchaud," "Trotterschaud," "Tresho," "Trosho", "Trotterchaud", "Trottershow", "Tradechaud", "Tratechaud", "Troptochaud", and "Thrush." There are very similar names still in use in the Burgundy region of France, such as "Tortochot" and "Tourtochaut".    The key thing about this surname in North America is that there was only one immigrant to New France, Louis Trotochaud, who arrived in 1737 with a wife and children.   All well-documented genealogies for this set of surnames in North America connect back to this one man.

The Odawa sentence "keshata" means "it is hot", and I believe some of Jean's descendants used that rendition as a surname instead of the original French. I have found no "Keshata"s in any historical record prior to 1890. All those I have found are descended from Jean Baptiste. The Durant roll gives both surnames for Lewis/Louis on the field note for "Tro-to-chow". An affidavit filed by John B Jr. on behalf of his brother-in-law John Henry Duvernay included in Duvernay's Civil War pension papers and available at the US National Archives mentions that John B. Junior used either surname. (Perhaps Louis and Junior tired of explaining their surname to their Indian relatives.) Angeline Trotochaud Naganse, one of their sisters and my great-grandmother, was called "Shat-e-quay" in Peshawbestown, Leelanau County Michigan. That name means "hot lady", but in view of the meaning of her maiden name, would be better rendered as "the Trotochaud lady."

- A. Dembinski