I can easily picture Catherine Marié (widowed for almost two years), sitting in Notary Public Pierre Laforce’s office, on this afternoon of the 12th day of October 1811, along with her eleven children: the elder, Jean-Baptiste, 25, married to Rosalie Bleau for three years; Michel, 24; Rose, 23, married to Joseph Forget-Depaty for two years; and the minor children: Catherine, 19*; Antoinette, 17; Hyacinthe, 15; Marie, 14; Charlotte, 12; Joseph, 11; Charles, 9; and François, 7. [*Note: The age of Catherine is estimated but the age of the other children is based on their actual birthdates.]
The purpose of this appointment is the reading and settlement of an act of partition. Michel’s death at the outset of 1810 was hard to overcome but Catherine knows she can count on her elder, Jean-Baptiste, who was elected sub-tutor with her as tutor to the minor children. Since their marriage, Jean-Baptiste and his wife have been living with Catherine and Michel. Shortly before Michel’s death, Jean-Baptiste and his wife lost their first-born daughter Rosalie but thank God, Jean-Baptiste Jr is almost one year old now and doing fine.
Besides Catherine, ten of her eleven children are claiming their rights to the inheritance (the elder, Jean-Baptiste, declined to claim his share, as he already received it on his wedding day).
The family seems to have been enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Let’s take a look at the estate properties owned by Michel before his death:
Parcel of Land One
A land of three acres by twenty-five acres, on the Jesus River, in Saint-François-de-Sales Parish, bounded on the northeast by the land of Jean Marie Mathieu, and on the southwest by the land of Étienne Content. Erected thereon are a one-storey stone house of thirty feet by thirty feet, a wood barn of sixty feet, a stable of forty-three feet, another small building of thirty feet, and a milk-house with an adjoining shed, all in good condition.
Parcel of Land Two
A land of two acres and a half by twenty-five acres located on the south shore of Jesus Island, on Des Prairies River, in Saint-François-de-Sales Parish, bounded on the northeast by the land of Mr. Hervieux, and on the southwest by the land of Baptiste Tourville; fences and ditches in good condition, with no buildings. The mortgage on this land amounted to two thousand pounds and was due to Joseph Turgeon. It has been settled from the liquidation account. The six-month interest was settled by Catherine herself and she forgot about it. Hence, the ten children will have to reimburse their mother for these interests, e.g. three pounds and twenty coppers each.
Parcel of Land Three
A land of three acres by twenty acres (on the southwestern line) and of three acres by twenty-two acres and a half (on the northeastern line), on the southern part of Isle Jésus, in Saint-François-de-Sales Parish, bounded on the northeast line by the land of Mr. Soumandre, and on the southwest line by the land of Joseph Dépaty (Catherine’s son-in-law). Erected thereon is an old stone house of thirty-five feet by twenty-two feet as well as one hay barn with wooden stables of about fifty feet.
Parcel of Land Four
A land of four acres and a half by nine acres on the northern side of Isle Jesus, in Saint-François-de-Sales Parish, bounded on the front by the land of Ignace Crépeau, and on the back by the land of Joseph Déry, on the northeast by the road leading to the mill, and on the southwesth line by the land of Baptiste Belhumeur; with no buildings on it.
Parcel of Land Five
A place of half an acre on the shore near the Chemin du Roi just across from the Village of Terrebonne.
Professional advice was sought from two experts to ensure that the five parcels of lands were of equal value. These experts were chosen by the tutor and sub-tutor, respectively. They were, save for Parcel of Land Three; consequently, the person who will inherit the southwestern portion of this parcel of land will have to pay seventy-five pounds and twenty sols to the recipient of the other “half” of that parcel.
First, the five parcels of land have been divided in two equal parts: one intended for Catherine, the other one to be divided among the ten children. The first lot is identified as being the northeastern portion of the lands. On two pieces of paper of equal size, Pierre Laforce writes “Lot No. 1” and “Lot No. 2” after which he puts them in a hat while asking one of the children to pick one at random. Instinctively, the child hands the piece of paper he picked to Jean-Baptiste who unfolds same and which reads as follows: “Lot No. 2”; this Lot hence goes to the minor children and Catherine inherits the northeastern portion of the lands (corresponding to Lot No. 1, e.g. the northeastern portion of the lands described above on which all buildings are built).
Afterwards, the Lot No. 2 has to be divided among the ten children. Notary Laforce proceeds the same way by using ten pieces of paper of equal size and identifies them as “Lot No. 1”, “Lot No. 2”, “Lot No. 3” and so forth until “Lot No. 10”. The lands have been numbered based on their geographic location. He then puts all the pieces of paper in the hat and each of the children is called in turn from the oldest to the youngest. The ten Lots were picked and shared as follows:
|Lot No. 1||François|
|Lot No. 2||Joseph|
|Lot No. 3||Rose|
|Lot No. 4||Hyacinthe|
|Lot No. 5||Antoinette|
|Lot No. 6||Michel|
|Lot No. 7||Marie|
|Lot No. 8||Charlotte|
|Lot No. 9||Charles|
|Lot No. 10||Catherine|
After Catherine and Jean-Baptiste have made their mark and the witnesses and notaries have signed, what do you think happened next? I imagine them going back to their mother’s house and maybe sharing a meal together.
In the years to come, each of them will go its own way.
If Charlotte and Hyacinthe remained in Saint-François-de-Sales, Michel will be later found in Montréal and Rose in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. Others will spread out far away.
Marie and Joseph both married and settled in Louiseville, Québec. Antoinette died in Saint-Pie-de-Bagot. If Catherine, Charles and François were once in Saint-Hughes and Saint-Jude, not too far from Antoinette, both Catherine and Charles moved with their respective families to Ferrisburgh, Vermont and later settled in Chateaugay, New York. After François passed away around 1855, his widow, Louise Corriveau, and their children moved to Massachusetts where they were known as “Courvilles”. Finally, the elder, Jean-Baptiste moved to South Hero, Vermont with his wife, Rosalie Bleau and their children.
As for Catherine, she died on November 15, 1830 and was buried in Lachenaie. Don’t presume that Catherine had left Saint-François-de-Sales. The church had been demolished and parishioners were now served by the church of Lachenaie.