According to various baptismal records or notary acts, William identified himself either as a miller, master miller, ploughman, farmer, daily labourer or habitant (term designing someone who owned a concession in current Québec Province territory). Still, there is a further aspect of William’s occupations that I wanted to write about—for in spite of what things look like he might have got his share of thrills.
William was also a voyageur.
The very preliminary steps of the first acknowledged trip in which Toussaint Tourville and his older brother Pierre were involved as voyageurs started on April 3, 1790 at the office of Notary Public Louis Chaboillez (in office 1787-1813), where they each sign a one-year contract with the merchant company Todd McGill & Co. The destination was unknown as they were accepting to travel wherever they were required to (North excluded). Even if the agreement entered into was for a one-year term only, they were contracted as “hyvernants” which meant they would spend the winter and make the return trip the next year. Continue reading
A few months ago, I discovered the Voyageur Contract Database on the Web. This database is really a gold mine for genealogists looking for their French-Canadian ancestors. It includes data from approximately 35,900 fur trade contracts passed before Montreal notaries between 1714 and 1830. It was at first an initiative of the Société historique de St-Boniface, Manitoba.
For those earlier years, in absence of censuses, it allows us to keep track of people, some individuals having honored more than one contract. Looking for descendants of your ancestors and can’t find them? This database might give you a clue about their whereabouts.
The great thing about this database is that you can also do a search by parish. If your ancestor came from a small village, you can easily find relatives or neighbours leaving with him. And if your ancestor bear more than one surname and his name was mispelled by the notary, looking by parish might help you find other contracts for him.
The database can be found here for research as well as the history of the project and all the parameters for research.
The Voyageur Contract Database and the Hubou-Tourville Family
With the help of this database, I have located these contracts with various notaries:
- April 3, 1790 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- April 3, 1790 – Toussaint Tourville (1770-1832) — moved definitely to St. Louis, MO
- April, 11, 1797 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- November 30, 1802 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- March 10, 1803 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- March 22, 1809 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- April 28, 1809 – Jean-Baptiste Tourville (to be identified)
- December 28, 1810 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- August 25, 1813 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- August 30, 1813 – Jean-Baptiste Tourville (to be identified)
As you can see, more work for me! 😉