Present-day Bourbonnais is the namesake of the French-Canadian courier de bois, Francois Bourbonnais, Sr., who resided north of Bourbonnais Creek from about 1829 to 1834.
Bourbonnais made a living trading with the Potawatomi, most likely as an independent contractor, buying trade goods from Astor's American Fur Company, trading with the locals for furs, and then selling the furs back to the fur company.
He and his wife, Catherine (Catish) Chevalier, a metis member of a prominent Potawatomi family, lived in a cabin a few rods north of Bourbonnais Creek (just northwest of today's Dairy Queen) with their 6 children, Francois Jr., Washington, Peter, Catherine, Mary Josette and Anthony, until 1834.
They then moved to a site on the north bank of the Kankakee River, where the senior citizen's high rise in the city of Kankakee now stands.
Eventually, Francois, Catish and most of their children left the area during the removal of the Prairie Potawatomi to the Platte country of western Missouri. It is thought that Francois Bourbonnais Sr. died sometime in the late 1840s.