52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #6 Evelina Bissonnette (née Tourville) (1879-1956)

Evelina Tourville Bissonnette (1879-1956) - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville Bissonnette (1879-1956) – Sarah Di Lallo collection

I wrote in a previous post about the tragic death of Evelina’s mother in the spring of 1880. Let’s now tell the story of Evelina’s childhood, the baby mentioned in the newspaper clip.

Evelina was born on August 31, 1879, from the marriage of Moïse Tourville and Malvina Hogue, in the village of St-Henri, in the district of Montreal. She was baptized the next day, her uncle Néré Leclaire and her aunt Evelina Tourville as her godparents.

At the time of her birth, her father Moïse was a clerk. As you may know, Moïse lost his wife about nine months after Evelina’s birth. We should expect to find Moïse with his daughter Evelina in the 1881 Canadian Census but we don’t. In those days, young widowers with a baby either remarried quickly or left the child with a family member. So, in 1881 Moïse is shown as having returned to live with his father. But Evelina is nowhere to be found in 1881 nor in 1891.

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette – Sarah Di Lallo collection

The next clue comes from her marriage to Albert Bissonnette on April 19, 1898 in St-Henri. What happened between 1880 and 1898? Fortunately, I found two documents telling a little bit about Evelina’s childhood.

In September of 1894, Néré Leclaire, Evelina’s godfather, went before a judge because he felt that a tutor and a sub-tutor should be named for Evelina, then aged 14. He said that he took care of Evelina since she was a baby and brought her up like his own child.

You may wonder why Néré Leclaire has waited all those years to take care of the tutorship? Well, Malvina’s mother died without a will and her daughter Evelina has inherited from her grandmother and became the owner of 1/4 of her house.

In that tutorship request, we learn that Moïse has been out of the Province of Quebec for 10 years or so and has returned only once, four or five years before. From a deed of sale passed between Moïse Tourville and his father before Notary Faure in April 1883, we know that Moïse is residing temporarily in Pullman City, Illinois. We also know that Moïse married his second wife, Azilda Labelle, in December 1884 in Chicago and that he remained there until at least 1900 as his name is listed in the US Census for that year. While Moïse was naturalized in 1893 in Illinois he came back to Canada before 1907.

We may assume from said deed that Moïse left his daughter to his sister before going to Illinois. But why can’t we find the household of Néré Leclaire, Evelina Tourville Leclaire and their niece Evelina Tourville in the 1881 and 1891 Canadian Census? If the 1890 US Census had been spared, we might have been able to get an answer.

Ms. Sarah Di Lallo told me that her great-grandmother Evelina was brought up by a family member in Chicago. At first, I thought that maybe it was the other way around. Moïse left for Chicago and Evelina stayed in St-Henri with a family member. But as I have no proof of that, it might be both ways. Maybe Néré Leclaire left for Chicago as well but came back with his family at some point before 1894. For sure, we know that Néré Leclaire was a grocer in St-Henri in September of 1894 and that Evelina married in St-Henri in 1898. I also checked the Montreal Lovell Directory and Néré is there from 1894 to 1898. Unfortunately, it seems that St-Henri was not included in the Directory before 1894 (what a bad luck!).

Moreover, a thing that seems inconsistent to me is that Moïse Tourville was present at Evelina’s marriage but claimed he was not able to sign. Then, how is it that all other documents bear his signature? Was he actually there? I have yet seen his signature on quite a few documents.

From left to righ, Evelina, Marguerite, Aline, Pauline, Madeleine, Yolande, Cécile, Agnès, Henriette. - Sarah Di Lallo collection
[Updated] From left to right, the daughters of Evelina and Albert Bissonnette: Marguerite, Aline, Pauline, Madeleine, Yolande, Cécile, Agnès and Henriette. – Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette had eight daughters, Marguerite, Cécile, Agnès, Aline, Pauline, Henriette, Madeleine and Yolande. Aline died last year at 109 years old! She is at the top of my Website statistics for being the one who had the longest life.

Evelina passed away on April 17, 1956 in Montreal, just a year before Albert who died on June 26, 1957 and both are buried in Montreal’s Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.

As for her Evelina Tourville Leclaire, she passed away in 1910 and strange enough, she was buried in the Church of St-Henri. I will definitely go to the BANQ (Montreal Library) to check for an obituary for her.

About a year later, Néré moved to Ontario where he married their former servant, Clara Deschamps, a native of that province, who lived with them in 1900. Néré died in Glengarry County, Ontario in 1915.

Sewing pieces done by Evelina at age 10 - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Sewing pieces done by Evelina at age 10 – Sarah Di Lallo collection

52ancestors-2015Thank you to Sarah Di Lallo for the pictures!

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #6 Evelina Bissonnette (née Tourville) (1879-1956)

  1. Sarah, you are truly amazing…you do such good work…thanks…

    • Hi Peter,

      Sarah was very nice! Giving me access to those great photos!


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