In my next 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks article, I will write about the family of Michel Tourville and Catherine Marié, parents of 14 children; but this week I would like to bring to your attention the case of their daughter Catherine. Why? Because she’s their only child for whom no baptismal act is available.
In such a situation, to what sources may I rely on to determine as accurately as possible Catherine’s approximate birth year? The references I have access to are her marriage contract, the 1850 US Census and her gravestone.
Does that help? Not that much. I did find two additional documents that might prove a little bit more useful actually.
The first document, a guardianship act, dated January 19, 1811, for the minor children of Catherine Marié, after the death of her husband Michel Tourville, is much closer to Catherine’s birth year as she is identified as Marguerite, 18 years old. Furthermore, in another notary document she is again referred to as Marguerite and later on as Catherine; Catherine and Marguerite are hence obviously the same person.
Let’s take a look at the table below showing the age indicated for the minor children in the said guardianship act as well as their real age at the same date and actual date of birth:
|Children||Age mentioned in the guardianship act dated January 19, 1811||Actual age as at January 19, 1811||Date of birth|
|Jean-Baptiste||not mentioned||25 years 2 months 9 days||10 November 1785|
|Michel||not mentioned||23 years 5 months 4 days||15 August 1787|
|Rose||not mentioned||22 years 1 month 17 days||2 December 1788|
|Catherine/Marguerite||18 years old||unknown||unknown|
|Antoinette||16 years old||16 years 9 months 30 days||20 March 1794|
|Hyacinthe||14 years old||14 years 9 months 18 days||1 April 1796|
|Marie||12 years old||13 years 4 months 22 days||28 Aug 1797|
|Charlotte||11 years old||11 years 10 months 1 day||18 March 1799|
|Joseph||9 years old||10 years 5 months 14 days||5 Aug 1800|
|Charles||8 years old||8 years 11 months 24 days||24 January 1802|
|François||5 years old||6 years 3 months 23 days||26 September 1804|
Given the information provided, I take it that:
- As Catherine was still a minor on January 19, 1811, she cannot be born before January 19, 1790; and
- because of the birthdate of her younger sister Antoinette, she cannot be born after May 1793.
The second document is the baptismal act of Catherine’s husband, Antoine Hébert-Lecompte (Saint-François-de-Sales Parish) wherein it is indicated that he was born on May 12, 1792. Hence, as Catherine is always identified as being older than Antoine and twice identified as being one year older than he is, it might be helpful to determine her birth year.
Moreover, the marriage contract passed between Antoine and Catherine before Notary Public François-Hyacinthe Séguin, on February 20, 1813, confirms the groom’s birthdate as it says he is 20 years of age and minor, authorized by his parents to the marriage. The church marriage record also shows Antoine to be a minor. He actually turned 21 about two months after the wedding which was celebrated on March 1, 1813.
As for Catherine, she is identified as being of age in both the notary act and the marriage record. So that means she was born between January 20, 1790 and February 19, 1792.
Neither Catherine and Antoine knew how to read nor write so that might explain why Antoine’s age is inaccurate in the 1850 US Census for Chateaugay, Franklin County, NY.
According to this census, as of June 1, 1850, Antoine was born in 1790 but we know that he was born in May 1792, so he is actually 58. Catherine is shown as being 61. May we assume that she was actually 59, one year older than him?
Catherine was 21 years old at the time of her marriage but turned 22 before June 1 to be one year older than her husband at that date.
Now look at the gravestone:
Antoine died on April 1, 1866, age 73 (and not 76 as indicated on this stone) more than a month before his 74th birthday.
Catherine died on December 27, 1866, supposedly at age 77 (but she could not been born in 1789). As you can see, Catherine is once more indicated as being one year older than her husband. If the one-year difference between Antoine and Catherine is precise at the time of her death, she would have been born between December 28, 1791 and February 19, 1792 to have died at age 74.
Catherine was 22 years old at the time of her marriage, Antoine turned 21 in May of that year, so she was one year older than him on June 1.
But what about Catherine being 18 on January 19, 1811? If that age is accurate (because some of her siblings are slightly older than the age shown), she would be born between January 20 and February 18, 1792. But the 1-year difference on the June 1, 1850 US Census would then be inaccurate.
Also, if she was 21 on February 20, 1813 and 18 on January 19, 1811, her birthday would be between January 20 and February 19, 1792.
I thus feel comfortable presuming Catherine was born in early 1792. I do believe that both the guardianship act and the marriage contract are accurate as indicating her status.
Not convinced? You’ll do the math!