From the Archives: Inventory after death of Sophie Arpajou (October 20, 1851)

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.

St-Hughes Cemetery

St-Hughes Cemetery

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.