#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #26 Catherine LaCount (née Tourville) (~1792-1866)

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.

tutelle michel

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:

ChildrenAge mentioned in the guardianship act dated January 19, 1811Actual age as at January 19, 1811Date of birth
Jean-Baptistenot mentioned25 years 2 months 9 days10 November 1785
Michelnot mentioned23 years 5 months 4 days15 August 1787
Rosenot mentioned22 years 1 month 17 days2 December 1788
Catherine/Marguerite18 years oldunknownunknown
Antoinette16 years old16 years 9 months 30 days20 March 1794
Hyacinthe14 years old14 years 9 months 18 days1 April 1796
Marie12 years old13 years 4 months 22 days28 Aug 1797
Charlotte11 years old11 years 10 months 1 day18 March 1799
Joseph9 years old10 years 5 months 14 days5 Aug 1800
Charles8 years old8 years 11 months 24 days24 January 1802
François5 years old6 years 3 months 23 days26 September 1804

Given the information provided, I take it that:

  1. As Catherine was still a minor on January 19, 1811, she cannot be born before January 19, 1790; and
  2. 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.

contrat catherineAs 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.

catherine 1850

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?

First Assumption:

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.

Second Assumption:

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!