Genealogy Investigations in Missouri and Illinois #1: Charles Tourville and Émilie Rousselle

By now, you ought to know about my passion for Tourvilles living in Missouri. What basically started with the sole objective of coming up with the death places and dates of Charles Tourville and Émilie Rousselle’s two daughters turned into an extensive and captivating research project—a real obsession.

Charles Tourville is the first-born son of Toussaint Tourville Sr., our family’s voyageur, who left Lachenaie, Quebec, in 1790, and married Marie-Reine Calvé on February 4, 1799, in Florissant, Missouri, where the couple settled afterward. Charles was born there on March 6, 1800.

Émilie Rousselle is the first-born daughter of Pierre Rousselle and Françoise Gagné. The couple was married on January 12, 1803, in Florissant where Émilie was born on September 27, 1803.

A few years ago, I wrote about the “scandal” surrounding Charles and Émilie’s marriage which took place on February 11, 1822, at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church in Florissant. As far as we know, the couple had four children (five, if we consider the child deceased in 1822, and mentioned in my 2015 post).

The four other children, all born in Florissant, and baptized at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, are as follows:

[Text in italics is mine and was added for ease of reference.]

  • Charles, born at 8 o’clock on the morning of July 23, 1823. He died immediately after his baptism.
  • Lucille, born on October 2, 1824, and baptized six days later. Her godfather was Pierre Tourville, her paternal uncle, and her godmother was Sophie Rousselle, her maternal aunt.
  • Silvanye (later, Sylvina, Silvania, or other variants), born on August 13, 1826, and baptized two days later. Her godfather was Alexis Chaput, and her godmother was Louise Tourville, her paternal aunt.
  • Charles, born on July 18, 1829, and baptized the next day. His godfather was Jacob Foster, husband of Sophie Rousselle, his maternal aunt, and his godmother was Véronique Caïou, wife of Toussaint Tourville Jr., his paternal uncle. Charles died on December 7, 1829, in St. Ferdinand.

Just by typing this information, I realize that all the ingredients for my story are there. I especially think about this Jacob Foster: I had no clue who he was at the time.

What material did I manage to gather about the family life of Charles and Émilie, and their two daughters, Lucille and Sylvina?

According to the 1830 US Census, the family lived in St. Louis Township. Neighbours included his brother Louis and wife Helena Ouvre, as well as Louis Rail, his brother-in-law and husband of Louise Tourville. Brother Toussaint Tourville Jr. and wife Véronique Caillou as well as Sophie Rousselle and husband Jacob rather reside in the Lower Ward of the city of St. Louis.

On July 27, 1838, daughter Lucille married Paschal Payan dit St-Onge at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church in Florissant at age 13. She therefore left the household that year. They vanished from the St. Louis area after their marriage.

In 1840, the family is in St. Ferdinand, with Charles’ brother Louis also living in the vicinity. By that year, brother Toussaint Tourville Jr. and their father Toussaint Sr. had died from the cholera epidemic in 1832. Louis Rail and Louise Tourville had moved to St. Clair County, IL, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Sophie Rousselle is nowhere to be found, but we are positive she married Amable Latour at the St. Louis Catholic Church in 1835. Obviously, her husband Jacob was deceased by then.

In 1850, Charles and wife Émilie are living in the First Ward of the city of St. Louis with their daughter Sylvina and their orphaned nephew Charles Tourville (Toussaint Jr. and Véronique Caillou’s son).

For subsequent years, only two events seem to have been recorded: that Émilie died in 1863—although she is nowhere to be found after the 1850 US Census; and as for Charles—for whom no death date has been confirmed—we can prove his attending a trial in the mid-fifties, concerning a land that was given to Sylvina and her husband William D. Peterson. They were married on September 30, 1850, in the city of St. Louis.

That is in fact the actual start of my investigation. I had tried for decades to locate Sylvina and her husband in US Censuses. A real brickwall. While I was looking for them, I discovered what happened to Lucille and her husband.

But for you to understand this tangled web case, I need to turn to Émilie’s sister, Sophie Rousselle. Her story is next, stay tuned!

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