From the Archives: Ellen Burley née Tourville (1833-1875)

I brought back a few nuggets from my Illinois and Missouri trip last fall and here is one of them.

I have worked a great deal on the family of Peter Tourville, son of Toussaint Tourville and Marie-Reine Calvé. For a long time, I hoped I would be able to confirm the cause and date of death I had in my database for Peter’s oldest daughter, Ellen. I only vaguely remembered that decades ago, I had read on a family tree that she was killed in an accident. All I could recall was that it involved a horse.

I finally found her obituary at the Illinois State Archives—insert grin here.

Ellen Tourville was born to Peter Tourville and Aspasie Chapu on November 19, 1833, in Florissant, Missouri, two years after her parents got married. She was baptized a few days later, on the 24, at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church. Her godfather was her uncle Paschal Tourville and her godmother, Victoire Chapu.

Ellen spent her early years in Florissant and then her family moved to St. Charles County where her father married his second wife, Nancy, in 1843. Although we do not know when or where Aspasie died, the fact remains that Ellen lost her mother before the age of 10.

Around 1848, the family moved to Jersey County, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River. Four years later, on January 1, 1852, at age 19, Ellen married Daniel Burley.

The couple settled in Newbern, Illinois and had at least seven children, namely Mary, born in 1852, John, born in 1855, Orren, born in 1858, Anna, born in 1860, Carrie Regina, born in 1866, Nettie, born in 1871, and Effie, born in 1872. The obituary mentions five, two may have died in infancy, and the newspaper might be wrong too.

Ellen died on January 17, 1875, at age 41.

“Mrs. Ellen Burley, wife of Daniel Burley, living near East Newbern, met on Sunday with an accident that resulted in her death. The facts, as near as we can learn, are as follows: On Saturday last, Mrs. Burley, in company with Miss Ellenwood (who is teaching school at Newbern,) came to Jerseyville in a buggy. When on their return home, on Sunday, and near the residence of Mrs. Palmer (daughter of Mrs. Burley,) in Newbern, the horse became frightened, cramping the buggy in such a manner as to upset it, throwing the occupants out, Mrs. Burley’s head striking the fence with great force. She was carried to the house of her daughter, where she died in about half an hour. Miss Ellenwood escaped with a sprained ankle, which, though painful, is not dangerous. Mrs. Burley leaves a family of five children, the oldest being married; the youngest is about eighteen months’ old.” — Jersey County Democrat, Jerseyville, Illinois, Thursday, January 21, 1875, p. 3

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