#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #14 Anonymous Tourville (1822-1822)

Since Thomas MacEntee announced his Genealogy Do-Over earlier this year, I’ve been glancing through his articles and told myself it could indeed be a good idea to start all over again.

For a while, my tree has become a source of frustration since I still find some mistakes every now and then, especially in what concerns dates. And that literally drives me crazy. I didn’t use any genealogy software 25 years ago and I thus started entering my people on Ancestry later on. Unfortunately, I was not clever enough to analyze all the “shaky leaves” from other members’ trees and I took for granted that the information was accurate. Was I wrong! And naive. I bought the Reunion software many years ago and I use Ancestry solely for research since then.

As I am preparing for my annual trip to Salt Lake City later this fall, I thought it would be a good idea to do a Genealogy Do-Over on a smaller scale. When at Family History Library, I would like to work on Toussaint Tourville’s descendents who moved to what later became Missouri. Why don’t I start from scratch again?

That’s what I did this summer. And this time, I am proceeding s-l-o-w-l-y, going through the St. Ferdinand Catholic Church records (Florissant, Missouri). I started with the marriage record of Toussaint Tourville and Marie-Reine Calvé and went on with the baptismal records of each of their children. I read and transcribed every record, noted the names of all witnesses and sponsors and realized at that point that some dates I had were wrong. For example, sometimes the baptismal date was reported as the birth date. I think that the data was probably misinterpretated by people who could not read French and I didn’t challenge their accuracy. You know what this means? I didn’t really read the records back in the days. And afterwards I probably thought I had already checked them. And the records are in French, my mother’s tongue, I have no excuses!


Old St. Ferdinand Shrine and Historic Site is located at no. 1 rue St. Francois, Florissant, Missouri and is owned, preserved, maintained and protected by the non-profit organization, Friends of Old St. Ferdinand Inc. The Shrine and Historic Site consists of four historic buildings on their original locations: the 1819 Convent, 1821 Church, 1840 Rectory and 1888 Schoolhouse [Wikipedia]. ~~~ Photo By Chuck Morris (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The first marriage record that I checked for the children was the one of first-born Charles Tourville and Émilie Rousselle.

Well, was I in for a surprise!

Here is the French transcription as well as the translation:

Le 11 fevrier mil huit cent vingt deux Charles Tourville fils de Toussaint Tourville et Marie Calvé, et Emilie Rousselle fille de Pierre Rousselle et de Françoise Gagnie, s’étant mariés devant un juge à cause que la mère de la fille ne voulait pas donner son consentement, après avoir fait pénitence et après avoir réparer le scandale publiquement, ont renouveller leur consentement de marriage devant moi et deux temoins, et je leur ai donner la bénédiction nuptiale.

Bonaventure Marion (sa marque)
Hyacent De Hetre (sa marque)
Charles Tourville (sa marque)
(signé) Emilie Rousselle
(signé) (…) De La croix prêtre


[Translation] On February 11, one thousand eight hundred and twenty two Charles Tourville son of Toussaint Tourville and Marie Calvé, and Emilie Rousselle daughter of Pierre Rousselle and Françoise Gagnie, who were married before a judge because the bride’s mother did not want to give her consent, and after doing penance and after having repaired the scandal publicly, have renewed their consent before me and two witnesses and I have given them the nuptial benediction.

Bonaventure Marion (his mark)
Hyacent De Hetre (his mark)
Charles Tourville (his mark)
(signed) Emilie Rousselle
(signed) (…) De La croix priest

What strikes me is that no member of the family attended the ceremony. It must have been a scandal all right!

Well, this leads me to the burial in St. Ferdinand Parish of the supposedly last-born of Toussaint Tourville and Marie-Reine Calvé, on July 5, 1822:

Enfant de Mr Tourville
Le 5 juillet mil huit cent vingt deux par nous prêtre soussigné a été inhumé au cimetière de cette paroisse le corps d’une petite fille de Mr Tourville qui venait de naître d’hier elle était ondoyée.

[Translation] Child of Mr. Tourville
On July 5, one thousand eight hundred and twenty two, by us undersigned priest, was buried in the cemetery of this parish the body of a little girl of Mr Tourville who was born yesterday. She has been baptized under conditions.

I always assumed (once again!), and everybody else did, that this child was born to Toussaint Tourville and Marie-Reine Calvé. Note that there is no indication about who the parents were. And what if the “scandal” was because Émilie Rousselle was pregnant without being married before a priest? Having no idea when the civil ceremony took place, we know for sure however that the child would have been born five months after the religious wedding while Charles’ and Emilie’s official first-born was born in July 1823, sixteen months after said wedding.

Also, in his 1856 testimony in a Supreme Court Case regarding a land dispute, Charles Tourville mentions that his father died without a will, that he had had eight children at the time of his death and names them all. He also mentions one child who was born between Étienne and Paschal (he surely meant between Paschal and Catherine, i.e. Brigitte) died while still a baby. Total of nine children, not ten.

So that means that we have no proof that the baby girl was the child of Charles Tourville and Émilie Rousselle, and we have no proof neither that she was Toussaint Tourville’s and Marie-Reine Calvé’s last-born.

So I think it is noteworthy that the baby girl who died in 1822 could be either Charles’ or Toussaint’s daughter.

I feel bad that I missed all this information which was right under my nose. But I shouldn’t be negative about all this. I love doing genealogy and I want to do it the right way. I mean, this is exciting, who knows what I will find next?

Coming this fall to a family blog near you.


2 thoughts on “#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #14 Anonymous Tourville (1822-1822)

  1. Diane, once again you make a post that gives me great food for thought! I think do overs are so critical and you have shown why. When I retire next year, I hope to have the time to take the same journey. Thank you again for showing us why it needs to be done!

    • Thank you Penny! I will need two or three other lives to go over everything but you know what they say: “One day at a time!” Or “One ancestor at a time!” Can’t wait for my retirement too 🙂

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