The day Louis Tourville Sr died in Lachenaie in December 1790, at age 63, his wife Josephte Robillard probably thought that, at just a few weeks shy of her 54th birthday, her life was over, when she became a widow for the second time of her life.
Quebec’s notarial contracts—the earliest being dated 1626—help family historians to gather precious information about their ancestors. These contracts include deeds, wills, marriage contracts, donation records, inventories of a deceased’s estate, indenture records, service agreements, exchange of goods, settlements, as well as guardianship papers. Each party is provided with an original copy and an additional copy kept by the notary, called minute, is the one we may consult nowadays. Although you have to know the notary’s name to find a specific contract, life became quite easier since Ancestry put an index online—even if it’s far from being perfect.
♠ The Bangle Files ♠
When I read a few months ago that Ancestry had launched an index for the Québec notarial records on its Website, I was very excited. It was a search tool I had long hoped for, but as I was not aware it was in the works, it came as a total surprise to me.
Picturing the lives of the people in our family trees between 1780 and 1820 in what is now the Province of Quebec is no easy task. The parish records may provide some hints about their relationships but without a census and no indication about the date of death, there is not much to write about. That is when the notary records come in handy.
It seems that some people had a close relationship with their notary. In small villages, their names keep coming back when reading the notary’s minutier (repertoire). Buying and selling lands, taking care of business; going to the notary’s office was no big deal for them. For others, it was a lifetime event, as it seemed to be the case for Antoine.
But first, let’s take a look at what the parish records tell us about him.
His parents, Joseph Tourville and second wife, Françoise Daunay, were married in 1766 in Lachenaie. Antoine, who was baptized on May 30, 1779 in Terrebonne, was the youngest child of the couple as my research led me to find two older sisters, Marie-Angélique, who probably died at a young age as there is no trace of her, except for her baptismal record in 1770, and Marie-Louise, who was born in 1773 and died in 1832. Antoine had numerous half-siblings, including Joseph Tourville, my GGG grandfather, married to Marguerite Fortin, and Michel Tourville, married to Catherine Marié.
Antoine was not even three years old when his father died in 1782, at age 62. In 1789, a few months before his 10th birthday, his mother passed away at age 54.
What happened to Antoine after his parents died? In fact, we would be in the dark if it wasn’t for a notary act telling the story of two major events of his life.
Picture him, on that Friday, November 22, 1799, walking to Notary Joseph Turgeon’s office in Terrebonne, accompanied by his godfather, Joseph Limoges, the Town’s Militia Captain.
On that day, Antoine is signing an agreement passed between Michel Rochelau dit Morrisseau and himself. Antoine thereby agreed to be his engagé (servant or laborer) for the next four years, from November 20, 1799 to November 20, 1803, which means he accepts to do whatever task Michel will ask him to do and, in return, he will get free room and board in Michel’s house as well as an annual salary of 132 pounds. The contract also states that Antoine is satisfied with the agreement as he has been living in Michel’s house for 16 years.
We therefore presume that, around 1783, Antoine is three or four years old when moving in with Michel Rochelau who got married with Marie-Archange Charpentier in 1782, the year Antoine’s father died. Maybe Françoise Daunay went there to work as a servant and she and her children went to live with that family.
The notary’s act furthermore indicates, by a addenda to that act, that Michel and Antoine returned to Notary Turgeon’s office on April 30, 1803 when Michel agreed to pay Antoine what was due to him and cancel the agreement before the November 20, 1803 deadline. You may wonder why? A very simple reason. Three days later, Antoine married Josephte Amiot-Villeneuve in Mascouche on May 2, 1803.Antoine and Josephte are the first Montrealers of the Hubou-Tourville family in the 1800’s as evidenced by two baptismal acts found with respect to the couple in Notre-Dame church in Montreal: Joseph, born in 1803, and Josepthe, in 1805. These acts do not indicate the father’s occupation but when his son as well as his daughter got married at the said church, the records state that their “late father was a baker of the parish of Montreal”.
The only clue pointing out that Antoine lived no longer than 33 years is to be found in Josephte Amiot-Villeneuve’s second marriage record on February 2, 1813, whereby she was identified as Antoine’s widow. On the day of the wedding, she declared residing temporarily at l’Île Jésus (now Ville de Laval) but was a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Rivière-des-Prairies (on Montreal Island).
There were a lot of notaries in Montreal in the early 1800’s, so who knows? I may find some other clues about Antoine’s life. And who would have guessed that this man’s grandson, Louis Tourville, would be the co-founder of the Banque d’Hochelaga, now the Banque Nationale du Canada (National Bank of Canada) which, as you may know, is a major Canadian bank, in addition to being a very successful businessman in the late 1800’s, as well as a politician? I do have more than 52 ancestors to write about.
After reading the inventory of estate performed on October 20, 1851 in St-Hughes, Québec, after the death of Sophie Arpajou, I can’t help imagine what led to it.
Maybe Sophie’s husband, Charles Tourville, who was then living in Chateaugay, New York, called for a family council, wondering what to do with the land that he still owned in St-Hughes. With his two older children of age, Charles Jr and Sophia, both married and living for three years then in Vermont, they were probably not interested to start all over again in Québec or maybe the land was so poor, it was no use even trying to. So on September 25, he went to Ferrisburgh, in Vermont, to get from his son Charles the procuration he needed to sell the land. Two days later he stopped at his daughter’s house in Vergennes, to get the procuration from her as well.
So in the fall of 1851, Charles Tourville made the trip to St-Hughes, maybe for the last time. He probably stayed with his brother-in-law, Joseph Langevin and his wife Madeleine Arpajou, sister of Sophie, in nearby St-Barnabé, where Joseph and Madeleine had a farm.
So what to do? Sell the land? To do that, Charles had to go before a judge and get a tutorship act. He first made a request to the judge on September 25, with the help of notary Timothée Brodeur. So, on October 10, before Circuit Court Judge Jean Casimir Bruneau in Montreal, the elected tutors for the six minor children were Charles Tourville as tutor and Joseph Langevin, maternal uncle to the children as surrogate tutor.
The most precious, valuable information coming from this inventory is the list of the minor children of Charles and Sophie Arpajou and their age as of October 20, 1851. Please note that this list appears in three different documents, all produced in the fall of 1851 and all the information is consistent from one document to another.
- Étienne (Peter Stephen), age 16 (born in August, 1835, information accurate)
- Marie-Édesse, age 14 (born in January 1839, would be 12 not 14; due to the reliable information concerning the other children in this inventory, I have concluded that this child is not the “Marie-Édesse” born in 1839 but rather “Dométhilde” born in 1837. She is referred as Edith, Nettie or Adesta in various records in the USA. The real Marie-Édesse was still living in 1840 but she may have died very young. “Dométhilde” birth year according to various US Census is closer to 1837 than 1839. At the time, it was not rare for a child to bear a first name that was used for a previous child who died in infancy.)
- Philomène, age 10 (baptized in May 1841 in Vermont – information would be accurate)
- Julie, age 8 (born in October 1843 as of 1900 Census – information would be accurate)
- Louis, age 6 (born in September 1844, just turned 7, information inaccurate)
- Joseph, age 5 (born in April 1846, information accurate)
Followed the inventory estate performed by Me Timothée Brodeur and Me Joseph Amiot, public notaries and Jacques Gendron and Lucien Houle as appraisers, both from St-Hughes. The inventory estate can be found here (in French) as well as the transcription here (in French).
Besides the land, Charles’ possessions didn’t amount to much. A mare, a two-handed saw, a board saw and 8 pounds and 12 sols in cash. On one hand, nobody owed him money but on the other hand he owed about 459 pounds to J. A. Arpajou for seignorial arrears and 36 pounds to the notary for the inventory itself. As for the papers of the family, two documents are mentioned: the marriage contract of Charles and Sophie Arpajou that was passed on August 31, 1827 (day of the religious marriage) before Me Charles Bazin, act number 373 as well as the tutorship act dated October 10, 1851.
The land he possessed was on the “fief” Beachemin, north of Yamaska River, in the county of Richelieu, of 2 arpents large by 30 arpents long before the Yamaska River, besides the properties of Bazile Richard on one side and of François Lussier on the other side. It was boarded by the “rang” Barrow at the other far end.
If this inventory doesn’t offer any other information, other documents do. The story does not end here. To be continued 😉
An inventory of estate was usually done after the death of the spouse when there were surviving minor children. It was usually done before the widow/widower remarried to protect the inheritance of the children. Of course, people with no property nor money had no interest of doing so.
A few months ago, I discovered the Voyageur Contract Database on the Web. This database is really a gold mine for genealogists looking for their French-Canadian ancestors. It includes data from approximately 35,900 fur trade contracts passed before Montreal notaries between 1714 and 1830. It was at first an initiative of the Société historique de St-Boniface, Manitoba.
For those earlier years, in absence of censuses, it allows us to keep track of people, some individuals having honored more than one contract. Looking for descendants of your ancestors and can’t find them? This database might give you a clue about their whereabouts.
The great thing about this database is that you can also do a search by parish. If your ancestor came from a small village, you can easily find relatives or neighbours leaving with him. And if your ancestor bear more than one surname and his name was mispelled by the notary, looking by parish might help you find other contracts for him.
The database can be found here for research as well as the history of the project and all the parameters for research.
The Voyageur Contract Database and the Hubou-Tourville Family
With the help of this database, I have located these contracts with various notaries:
- April 3, 1790 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- April 3, 1790 – Toussaint Tourville (1770-1832) — moved definitely to St. Louis, MO
- April, 11, 1797 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- November 30, 1802 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- March 10, 1803 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- March 22, 1809 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- April 28, 1809 – Jean-Baptiste Tourville (to be identified)
- December 28, 1810 – Pierre Tourville (1764-? but aft 1819)
- August 25, 1813 – William Bengle (1765-1821)
- August 30, 1813 – Jean-Baptiste Tourville (to be identified)
As you can see, more work for me! 😉
In 1860, his wife Louise was living in Sutton, Worcester County, in Massachusetts. We can assume from the Census that she is a widow. Lucky enough, I found two contracts signed before notary Timothée Brodeur in St-Hughes to give us a hint about when François Tourville died and confirm the fact that Louise Corriveau was indeed a widow when she moved to Massachusetts.
The first one is dated February 14, 1854. The document states that François Hubou dit Tourville and his wife Louise Corriveau, both residents of St-Jude, acknowledge receipt for the fourth payment that was due last January “of this year” for the sale of a land that was made by François to Bazile Richard, on March 30, 1850 before the same notary. The buyer is the owner of the neighbouring land.
The second contract was dated January 26, 1855 where Louise Corriveau, widow of the late François Tourville, resident of St-Jude, acknowledges receipt for the last payment regarding the sale of a land made by the late François Tourville, to Bazile Richard.
I have checked the St-Jude and St-Hughes church records for 1854 and early 1855 and I haven’t find anything. Was François planning to move to Massachusetts and he died on his way to the States or in Massachusetts? When his son Alexandre married in 1856, he states that he is from the United States. Did the family leave right after receiving that last payment? Généalogie Québec has baptisms, marriages and death entries indexed until 1850. When the years 1854-1855 will be indexed, maybe we will find his death record in another parish.
At least, we now have a timeframe to continue the search.