Kanistanaux Family Review (1)

The Kanistanaux family appears to be central to this mystery of who the two Indian Doctresses (Marleah & Lee-o-netto) are and how they relate to each other. However, as is so often the case in genealogy research, the more I learn about the family, the more I realize I don’t really know very much about this family!

If I rely on census records, this family appears fairly straight forward – parents, Laton & Marleah with three children. It’s not until I look deeper that all the questions pop-up.

Kanistanaux appears to be a unique surname to this extended family based in Stockton, NY. I found the name first used in Pennsylvania (one county away from Stockton) in 1866, but then a gap of almost a decade before it reappears in Stockton in 1875. It is found from that time to the present day. I have determined this is not the birth name of Laton.

  • Where does this surname come from?
  • What surname did the family use before 1875?
  • Where was this family living before 1875?

Based on census records, Laton & Marleah appear to be the parents of Caroline, Henry, & William. However, I can document that Laton was with another wife & child in Wisconsin when Carrie & Henry were born.

  • Who is the father of Carrie & Henry?
  • Where and when did Laton and Marleah marry?
  • Did Marleah have a previous husband or husbands?

I have not yet located any vital records (birth, deaths, marriages) for any member of the family, so how do I really know who the parents of these children are? Well, I don’t.

  • Is Marleah the mother of any or all of these children?
  • Is Laton the father of William and/or the younger Dr. Lee-o-netto?

The obituaries of Caroline and Henry both list Dr. Lee-o-netto of Allegany as a sister. But this person never appears with her siblings in census records.

  • Who raised Dr. Lee-o-netto?
  • Could they be her parents?
  • Why is she separated from her siblings?

I learned from newspaper clippings that Dr. Lee-o-netto (probably the elder) traveled around New York offering her medical services. Based on census records, two different women used this same name, probably at different times. The name is probably a “stage name” chosen to promote the services of th[is] ese twoIndian doctress”.

  • What are is the birth names of the Dr. Lee-o-netto ladies?

Both Dr. Lee-o-netto ladies appear[s] to have connections to the Kanistanaux family. The younger one [She] is documented as a sibling of Caroline & Henry, but I still don’t know how the older woman fits.

In the published biography of the elder woman, it states her father was “Kanistanaux” and that he was also a physician. She was born about 1846 in Canada according to census. Laton Kanistanaux was born in 1833, so he was only 13. Clearly, Laton is not the father of the elder Dr. Lee. Laton has brothers, Ira and Isaac (another Dr. Kanistanaux), but none of them are old enough to have fathered this woman. Laton has cousins, James and Lewis, but neither of them are old enough. I found no female Kindness cousins that could be Lee-o-netto. There could be other possibilities, but I would have to research the whole Brothertown tribe to rule out all the other possibilities. This is not a reasonable option at this time. If I find more pieces of the puzzle leading in that direction, I will revisit this option.

The biography of Dr. Lee (elder) claims her parents were Seneca. I have already determined the Kindness family is from Brothertown with Pequot and Narragansett origins in Connecticut. In the Machias biography, Dr. Lee (elder) claimed she was born in Sherbrooke, Canada. This is a great distance from where any known Kanistanaux or Kindness is found (CT, NY, WI).

At this point, I am not able to connect the elder Dr. Lee to Laton Kanistanaux or other members of the Kindness family.

  • Did the elder Dr. Lee make-up or borrow the Kanistanaux name?

The Seneca are Iroquois and found in the State of New York. In fact, when I look at a map of Seneca lands, I see all the various towns and counties where I found the Kanistanaux or Lee-o-netto names is nestled close by Seneca Reservations.

  • Do any public Seneca records exist for this time period?
  • Could Dr. Lee and/or Marleah be Seneca?
  • Could either of them have had a Seneca husband?

Dr. Lee (elder) claims she was born in Sherbrooke, Canada. This sounds promising. It matches unsourced information I have about Eli and Catherine Moulton, the presumed parents of Marleah. Catherine is believed to have been born about 1793. She would be about 53 plus or minus 5 years when Dr. Lee (elder) was born about 1846. It does not seem too likely Dr. Lee is a daughter of Catherine. However, Marleah was born about 1826 making a 20 year difference in their birth dates.

  • Is Dr. Lee (the elder) a daughter of Marleah Moulton?
  • Is Dr. Lee (the elder) a cousin, step-sister, or half sister to Marleah?

If the elder Dr. Lee is a daughter of Marleah, then surely the younger Dr. Lee would not be another daughter – or would she? Since I don’t know what the birth name for either woman is, I suppose they could both be daughters of Marleah, with the stage name Lee-o-netto being passed down at the time of retirement from the elder woman to the younger woman.

Dr. Lee (the elder) states in the 1900 Census that she did not have any children. But what if someone else provided this information and they did not really know? Dr. Lee was born about 1846. Caroline was born about 1857 and Henry in 1860. Dr. Lee can’t be their mother. The younger Dr. Lee was born about 1869, when the elder was about 23. William was born five years later. William and the younger woman could be children of the older Dr. Lee. But if that is true, how could the younger Dr. Lee be a sibling of Carrie and Henry, who are too old to be children of the elder Dr. Lee?

I located a male Dr. Kanistanaux in New York and Pennsylvania. Where does he fit. I am pretty sure he is Isaac J. Kindness, brother to Laton. Does that mean Kanistanaux is a Brothertown name? There is no direct evidence of this, but indirect evidence comes from the letter written by this man that claims he was using his “old Indian” name.

  • Could the female Dr. Kanistanaux found in PA in 1866 be the wife of this man instead of the wife of Laton?
  • Did Isaac and Laton Kindness borrow the Kanistanaux name from some other Indian family?
  • Could Isaac be the father of the younger Dr. Lee and/or William?

Lewis Kindness is found living with Laton & Marleah in 1900 and he is still in Stockton in the 1910 census. Lewis is a cousin to Laton. Lewis had a wife and child in Wisconsin after the war.

  • When did Lewis first move back to New York?
  • Could Lewis be the father of the younger Dr. Lee and/or William?

As I said in the beginning – the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t really know anything.

However, there does appear to be a few facts that can be teased out.

  1. The core family group consists of people linked (using historical documentation) to the Kanistanaux surname.
  2. The Kanistanaux surname appears to be unique (found no where else at the time) to this group of people.
  3. At this point in my research (February 2011), the Kanistanaux surname first appears about 1866 in McKean Co. Pennsylvania in reference to a visit by “Kanistanaux, an Indian doctress”.
  4. Five members of the group are documented as “Indian Doctors” and “Indian Doctresses”.
  5. The exact relationships of most individuals in the group to each other are very unclear.

I think I am going around in circles. I certainly am getting dizzy! So many pieces and nothing fits together well. I have probably missed one or two important clues. If anyone can see something I missed, please leave a comment or send e-mail.

See the Kanistanaux Home Page for more.
Do you have any information to add or questions?
Please leave a comment.

Canyon Wolf 
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Categories: Family-Kanistanaux, Review

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