52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #5 Charles B. Tourville (1857-1910)

Aren’t people who were born, got married or died between 1880 and 1900 the most difficult to search? You’re going to tell me that it depends on where they lived (some States are more secretive than others) or whether other sources are available. Exactly!

Take for instance Charles B. Tourville, born on May 20, 1857 in St. Louis, Missouri to Joseph Toussaint Tourville and Susan Stout. That date came from the Pension Application of his father, a Civil War veteran. For the rest, I had to rely on the 1860, 1870, 1900 and 1910 US Census. What have I learned from those census?

In 1860, the family lived in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1870, they had moved to Canton, Fulton County, Illinois. Although Charles’ parents and youngest siblings are back in St. Louis by 1880, he’s nowhere to be found. The next hint I got was from the 1900 US Census. Charles is living in St. Louis and he is married to Katherine. Looking more closely at the household I noticed that the wife never had any children, the couple had been married for four years, a daughter of Charles is living with them, Lorena, born in September 1885. And finally, the 1910 US Census tells us that the couple is living alone, with new details: it was a second marriage for him and a first for Katherine.

I quickly discovered a marriage license dated September 17, 1896 for Charles Tourville and Katherine F. Motzer on Ancestry in the “Missouri Marriage Records” database. I found no other marriages for Charles.

During my stay in Salt Lake City last November, while I was browsing through newspaper indexes, some interesting clues came up :

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, October 19, 1881, p. 11

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, October 19, 1881, p. 11

Meyer Amelia st louis daily globe-democrat 6 feb 1882

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, February 6, 1882, page 5

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, February 7, 1882

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, February 7, 1882, page 10

See how newspapers filled that 1880-1900 gap? Not only did I have Amelia’s maiden name but also her age and the cause of death. With that information in hand, I have found the marriage record while in Salt Lake City. Later on, I noted that Charles was indexed as Toneville. No wonder there was no trace of him in the database before. The only detail that puzzled me is since Amelia died long before 1885, she couldn’t possibly be the mother of Lorena. She also died only four months after her marriage.

That St. Louis newspaper really has all the answers: well, well, well… take a look at that, under the Licenses to marry Section in 1883:

st louis globe democrat february 1, 1883

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, February 1, 1883, p. 12

A quick look at Amelia Meyer and Eugenia Meyer in the 1880 US census for St. Louis and it appears like Charles married his sister-in-law Eugenia after his wife’s death.

My next step was the Missouri Death index. I quickly noted the death information for Amelia, on February 4, 1882, Eugenia, on July 30, 1895, and Charles, on October 3, 1910.

From the same database, I found some children named Tourville who died in St. Louis, so I tried to find out if they could be children of Charles and Eugenia. As a matter of fact, they were. With the help of the Missouri Birth Index and the St. Louis Directory as well as the name of the parents, I could identify the following children:

  1. Robert S. born November 3, 1883, died at age 15 on July 13, 1899. He was badly injured at the Fourth of July celebration and died a week later from tetanus.
  2. Lorena E. born September 27, 1885, died in 1964 in California. She was married about 1907 to Robert Gilreath. She was living in Los Angeles in 1910. She is not mentioned in her father’s obituary. Was she estranged from him?
  3. Freda C. born November 8, 1887, died on November 20, 1889.
  4. Susan (birth name Pearl H.), born July 13, 1892, died on May 17, 1894.
  5. Esther born April 15, 1895, died June 22, 1895.

So between 1889 and 1899, Charles lost four children and his second wife Eugenia. Esther died one month before her mother. That must have been a very difficult time for the family.

As you can see, I now know a lot on Charles B. Tourville even if most of the events happened between the years 1880-1900. Wasn’t I lucky he lived in St. Louis! If not, I might have never known about his other marriages and his children.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 4, 1910, page 11

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 4, 1910, page 11







52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #4 Emilie Tourville (née) Rousselle (1803-1863) ~ Find A Grave or Miracles do Happen

I have been looking for the death date and place of Emilie Rousselle, wife of Charles Tourville, for as long as I’ve been doing genealogy, so for more than 20 years believe it or not.

Emilie Rousselle was born in Florissant, Missouri in 1803, where she also married Charles Tourville (whose death I haven’t found yet) on February 11, 1822.

For a long time, the 1850 US census was the most recent proof of them being still alive in St. Louis but a couple of years ago I found a Supreme Court case for a daughter of Charles and he testified in 1855 stating that he was married and it was clear from what he said that his wife was still alive. I couldn’t and still cannot find them (or her) in the 1860 US Census.

While on the Website Find A Grave, working on Tourvilles in Missouri, I found an entry for Emilie Rousselle Tourville buried in the Old Saint Ferdinand Cemetery which is defunct since 1900. Florissant’s St. Ferdinand Catholic Church records are in the Drouin Collection but I think they are not all indexed on Ancestry as the burials for later years do not show up. I realize now I should have gone through all the pages index or not.

But no matter what, the most wonderful thing was not to find her burial death and place but a SOURCE for it:

“September the 13th Buried Emilie Rousselle 54 yrs wife of Charles Tourville.” ~ J. F. Van Assche, SJ

A couple of years ago, a member of Find A Grave, Sheila Kesterston, was looking for her ancestors in Florissant, Missouri and she found where the burial records were located. The entries for the cemetery come from this source as stated by Sheila:

“Registre des Sepultures faites dans le Cimetière De la paroisse de St Ferdinand, Diocèse de Louisiane, commencé le premier de janvier L’année mil huit cent vingt deux 1822” which translates to “Record of the Burials made in the Cemetery Of the parish of St Ferdinand, Diocese of Louisiana, beginning the first of January In the year one thousand eight hundred twenty two 1822.” Found at:

St. Louis County Library – Headquarters
Tier 5 (top floor)
1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63131-3598

Old St. Ferdinand Burial Records
Roll 167, Item 5

It has 95 pages and runs from 1822 to July 1876.”

A warm “Thank You!” to Sheila who has decided to input all the names on that roll. I cannot thank her enough!

You may first consult the Find A Grave page for the Old Saint Ferdinand Cemetery should you want to check for your own ancestors and then browse the pages of the database on Ancestry.com if you want the copy of the image.

There seems to be two other Tourville members in that cemetery (one is named Tourvelle). I still have to figure out who they are as they are young children. As for Charles Tourville, well back to work. I will find him too. From my desk or by travelling to Missouri. 😉


St. Louis Cholera Epidemic in 1832

EarlyUSFrenchCatholicChurchRecordsDrouinCollecti_49997929 page 1

St. Louis Catholic Church Records for October 1832

The St. Louis Church Burial Records for October 22, 1832 indicate that both Toussaint Tourville Sr and Toussaint Tourville Jr were buried on that date.

I was always intringued by this entry and often wondered what happened to them. A few people asked me if I knew the cause of death and I didn’t. Of course, a quick look at the history of St. Louis might have helped me find out.

Not so long ago I found a document on the Missouri Digital Heritage Website pertaining to a land dispute between Sylvina Tourville and her husband William Petersen as the plaintiffs and Catherine Seig as the defendant.

The testimony of Charles Tourville, father of Sylvina, and son of Toussaint Tourville Sr has finally shed some light on this mystery. During his testimony, Charles mentioned that his father died during the first year of the cholera.

In fact, the cholera epidemic in North America started in Quebec City during the month of June 1832. It spreads to St. Louis via the Great Lakes. According to the Missouri Intelligencer in October and November, 1832, the cholera raged in the city during those particular months.

For more information on the cholera epidemics in St. Louis :