My 2019 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words—or More | S for Saint-Jacques-de-l’Achigan

Simply known today as Saint-Jacques, Saint-Jacques-de-l’Achigan was also called Saint-Jacques-de-la-Nouvelle-Acadie by the first settlers, Acadians who arrived in 1770 from Boston. The first parish register dates back to 1774. Continue reading

My 2019 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words—or More | Q for Quebec

I love this Challenge for many reasons. Since while I am brainstorming for each letter of the alphabet, I dig a little deeper into my ancestors’ lives and I end up with lots of details that help me enrich my tree. Continue reading

My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: Q for Quebec

While researching French Canadians in US Census, I noticed a lot of newcomers in Vergennes and Ferrisburgh just before 1840. It struck me how many people—whole families—from Marieville, Saint-Mathias (Pointe-Olivier), and Yamaska, among others, had to leave their village to go to work in Vermont. While some only spent the winter season, others never returned. Available lands being far from enough for the ever-increasing demand, same clearly led families to take the road. With 900,000 people emigrating between 1830 and 1920 to the United States, some say that the Quebec population would be much larger today.

To Learn More About my Vermont Project, click here.

ChallengeAZ 2017—A Bangle Dictionary | N for Notary

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

The 2017 Challenge A to Z is proposed to the French community of bloggers by Sophie Boudarel of La Gazette des ancêtres

#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #23 Barbe Hubou

20121115034504!GlobeThe Pioneers from Mesnil-Durand, France

We have identified five persons who came from Mesnil-Durand in the 17th Century: Guillaume Hubou (about 1627), Barbe Hubou (1639), Mathieu Hubou (1641), Nicolas Goupil (1642) and Françoise Hubou (1662). Here is the story of Barbe Hubou. Continue reading

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #13: Louis Tourville (1844-1912)

Charles Tourville and Sophie Arpajou had eight children who made it to adulthood, four sons and four daughters. Let’s continue with one of their sons, Louis Tourville, a Civil War veteran.

Louis was born on September 30, 1844 and baptized 6 days later, on October 6, in St-Hughes, Québec. His father Charles was absent at the baptismal ceremony which led me to believe that he was perhaps working in Addison County while Sophia was waiting for Louis’ birth at their house in St-Hughes.

As I explained in previous posts, it seems that around 1850 Charles, then a widower, went on to live with his sister Catherine, brother-in-law and nephews in Chateaugay, NY to get some help from Catherine to raise the younger children. By the end of 1851 or beginning of 1852, we can assume that both the families of Louis’ siblings, Charles Jr and Sophia, moved to Chateaugay after living a few years in Addison County, VT. His brother Joseph and sister Julia seemed to have spent all their lives in Clinton or Franklin Counties after their mother’s death. A decade later, around 1862-63, two other siblings, Peter Stephen and Philomena, also moved from Vergennes, VT to Franklin County, NY with their spouse and children. Nettie will be the only one who will stay permanently in Vermont with her family.

What about Louis? In 1860, he was living in Vergennes within the household of a lawyer. According to the census, at age 15, he attended school during the year which is a little bit surprising to me. Was he working there as a servant as well? Because another boy in the same household was a servant and had also attended school that same year at age 17. Maybe there are some research to do about that lawyer, George W. Grandey. We know for sure that Louis was educated because he knew how to sign his name.

One year later, on September 6, 1861, Louis enrolled in the Civil War. He was mustered in on September 20, fighting with Company F, in the 2nd Regiment of Vermont. Some hints about his appearance: he was 5′ 6″, had black hair and dark eyes. You can read the organization and service of Louis regiment here.

Some important dates concerning Louis’ Civil War Service:

  • He survived the Battle of Gettysburg, PA, which occured July 2-4, 1863.
  • He was mustered out on December, 20,1863 but re-enlisted the following day at Brandy Station, VA.
  • He was wounded from a musket gun shot in the right thigh at the battle of the Wilderness, VA, on May 5, 1864, which lasted 3 days. The ball entered on the inside about 6 or 7 inches above the knee joint and exited nearly opposite its entry. He was admitted at Campbell General Hospital, in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 1864.
  • On May 16, 1864, Louis was furloughed. He returned to duty on August 1, 1864.
  • He was struck in the left thigh by a piece of an exploded shell at the Third Battle of Winchester, VA, on September 19, 1864.
  • He was hospitalized in Montpelier, VT General Hospital and during the following months he is listed as present at the Fort Wood Station, on Bedloe’s Island, in the New York Harbor. By November 1864, he was back with his regiment.
  • He was promoted Corporal on January 1, 1865.
  • He was mustered out with the rest of the regiment on July 15, 1865, in Washington, D.C. although some papers in his Pension file also mentioned July 20 as his discharge date.
Louis' Hospital Card in Washington, DC

Louis’ Hospital Card in Washington, DC

Shortly after his service, on September 20, 1865, Louis married Matilda LaQuire (or Lequin in Québec) in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, before a Methodist minister. Matilda was no stranger to Louis as she was the cousin of Joseph St-Germain, his brother-in-law. The couple quickly moved to Chateaugay, NY as Matilda gave birth there to daughter Mary Jane on December 6, 1865 and baptized on January 1, 1866 at the local St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

You people out there did notice the dates and did the math. I suppose that Louis did her a favor. I have no proof that he was back in Vermont nine months or even seven months before the birth of Mary Jane. I also noticed that Mary Jane stated her birth year as 1866. She was probably told that she was born in 1866. You can change a birth date but not the timeline of the Civil War.

At the end of the summer of 1868, the couple welcomed another daughter, Lizzie. A few months later, the family moved to Grand Haven, MI. On August 19, 1869, Lizzie died at age 1, from teething. On December 23, 1869, a third daughter was born, Clarissa.

I know from various Grantor/Grantee Indexes that a land was purchased from Louis in 1866, 1868 as well as in 1872 in Chateaugay, NY but I haven’t seen the documents. Only very recently have I found the birth of another child, George, who was born on March 17, 1872 in Ferrisburgh, VT. He was baptized 4 days later at the Charlotte Catholic Church. I think there is a possibility that his brother Peter Stephen was living on the land as it was sold to Peter by Louis in 1884. The family probably returned to Grand Haven shortly after George’s birth.

I tried everything to find Louis and Matilda in the 1870 US Census in Michigan without any luck. Same thing for Louis sister’s Philomena and her husband Dwight Daniels who also lived in Grand Haven at the same time.They were left out.

According to the 1880 US Census, Louis was living in Grand Haven, working in a livery stable, with his wife Matilda and their two daughters, Mary and Clarissa. So his son George either died in Vermont or in Michigan. On January 1, 1883, Louis’ name appeared in the 1883 Michigan Civil War Pension Roll as a resident of Grand Haven. Also the Grand Haven G.A.R. Post #75 1883 List states that he was a sailor. His daughter Mary Jane was married in 1883 to Marinus Kamhout and his daughter Clarissa was married in 1886 to Edward Palmer, both in Grand Haven. Clarissa’s father-in-law, Philander Palmer, a physician, was also a Civil War Veteran and was a member of G.A.R. Post #75 with Louis.

Clarissa is high on my “Missing People” list. Edward Palmer married his second wife in 1892 but I have no idea what happened to Clarissa. In fact, Clarissa’s marriage is the last trace I found of Matilda as well as she was the witness for the bride.

By 1886, Louis moved to Minneapolis, MN. He occupied all kind of jobs there: hackman, laborer, hostler, groom, teamster. For a time, he was working at E.C. Butts & Sons. E.C. Butts was a native a Vermont and had also a business in Grand Haven. I often wondered if Louis left Grand Haven because his wife died. Or had he left with her and she died in Minneapolis? Or has he simply left his family? A questionnaire sent to the veterans in 1898 concerning the family members of the veterans only states: “Wife dead”  written by Louis’ hand. No mention of his daughters.

By 1896 Louis was back in Grand Haven as he was working as a porter at an hotel there. In 1907, he declared that he then lived in Chateaugay, NY. His name is not in the 1905 NY State Census so we can assume he came back to Chateaugay around 1907. We found him there in 1910, living with his nephew Albert.

In order to receive his pension, Louis had to go through a biannual medical exam from what I gathered.The first one was in Malone, NY in 1867. The doctor declared him one half incapacitated and the disability was permanent. Louis complained of rheumatic pains in the leg which became aggravated after much fatigue. The next exams were in Grand Haven, MI, in both 1873 and 1875. In 1877, the exam was made in Grand Rapids, MI. The later exams were in Minneapolis in 1890, 1891 and 1892. His pension was first at the monthly rate of $4, then went down to $2. He did challenge the amount but he had to wait until 1907 to get a monthly rate of $12 due to his age (over 62). His medical reports also showed his weight gain. From 145 lbs at age 29 to 165 lbs at age 45.

Louis died on March 27, 1912 in Chateaugay. At the time, he was living with his nephew Albert Tourville. He was buried in St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery, in Chateaugay, NY. All these long trips accross the country and he died where he grew up as child.


Louis Tourville Obituary - March 29, 1912 - Chateaugay Record and Franklin Democrat

Louis Tourville Obituary – March 29, 1912 – Chateaugay Record and Franklin Democrat

52 Ancestors / 52 Weeks is an idea proposed by Amy Johnson Crow. Link on the image for more details about it.

52 Ancestors / 52 Weeks is an idea proposed by Amy Johnson Crow. Link on the image for more details about it.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #11 William Thomas (1819-1901)

William Thomas was born on December 27, 1819, in St-Benoît, Deux-Montagnes County, in Québec. His parents were Walter Thomas, of Wales, Great-Britain, and Marguerite Paradis, a French-Canadian. They were married in the Anglican Church, in Lachine, Québec, on October 26, 1818. A Walter Thomas emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1818. It might be him.

William Thomas was the first born. I found eight siblings so far. All were baptized in the Catholic Church, except one for which I do not have a birth date.The family mainly lived in St-Benoît, Ste-Scholastique, Rigaud and St-André d’Argenteuil, in Québec. William’s parents, Walter and Marguerite, later moved to Franklin County, NY. They appear in the 1840 US Census for Westville and the 1850 US Census for Constable. Walter died between 1875 and 1880 and Marguerite, between 1870 and 1875. Both were living in Westville at the time.

Before 1842, William Thomas married Ann (Todd?), probably in Canada. It looks like they moved to Franklin County, NY in the early 1850’s. The 1900 US Census indicates 1851 as the year of arrival for William although one child was supposedly born in Canada in 1852.

William and Ann are listed in the 1860 US Census in Constable, NY. The first child to be born in NY state was born in 1853.

William and Ann had at least ten children:

  • Walter, born about 1842, Canada
  • Elizabeth, born about 1845, Canada
  • Margaret, born about 1848, Canada
  • Clarissa, born about 1850, Canada
  • Mary A, born about 1850, Canada
  • George, born February 1852, Canada
  • John, born July 25, 1853, NY
  • Rebecca, born about 1856, NY
  • Adelia, born October 1860, NY
  • William, born July 1863, NY

I have been told that Ann’s surname was Todd but I haven’t found any proof yet. I will have to make further research on her. Peter Thomas, William’s brother, did marry a Christiana Todd, in 1861. She might be Ann’s younger sister. Her parents were Thomas Todd and her mother was called Anna.

Ann was born abt 1822 in Canada. She died on November 1, 1864 in Westville, NY at age 42. She was buried in the local Briggs Street Cemetery. William’s remains would later be buried in the same plot.

In early 1865, William Thomas married Julia Tourville. A post have been published for her, you can read it here.

They had seven children, only six were found:

Since his arrival, William Thomas was farming in Franklin County. More research will have to be done in Franklin County on land records for William Thomas. Another area of research includes the naturalization records as the 1900 US Census indicates that William was naturalized.

I haven’t found any obituaries for William Thomas. He died on July 15, 1901, at age 81 and was buried in Briggs Street Cemetery, in Westville, with his first wife Ann.

And last, here is a picture of Julia and William, his second wife. Would this be a picture at the time of their wedding? She was 22 and quite pretty, he was 45.

Julia Tourville and William Thomas (1865?)

Julia Tourville and William Thomas (1865?)



52 Ancestors / 52 Weeks is an idea proposed by Amy Johnson Crow. Link on the image for more details about it.

52 Ancestors / 52 Weeks is an idea proposed by Amy Johnson Crow. Link on the image for more details about it.

Fichier Origine: To Keep Coming Back Pays Off!

Have French-Canadian Ancestry? If you have climbed up your family tree up to the 17th or early 18th Century in New France, you probably have consulted the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec – des origines à 1730 by René JETTÉ and found your ancestor with details of where he came from. Others are not so lucky, finding only the name without any clues about his/her parents and place of origin. An example, my 8G great-grandmother, Marguerite Drapeau (abt 1616-1683). Her name is mentioned in the Dictionnaire but the only clue was a marriage contract signed in La Rochelle.

Thanks to the database Fichier Origine, the work initiated by René Jetté was continued by Marcel Fournier, a well-renowned genealogist, as coordinator of the database, who was himself inspired by historian Yves Landry who had the idea in the first place. The project was first proposed to the Fédération québécoise des sociétés de généalogie and later approved by the Fédération française de généalogie.

Who will you find in this database? Your ancestor, if he was born in France and later emigrated to New France. If the baptismal act of your ancestor was not found, you may find the one of a sibling.

Marguerite Drapeau is in the database since November 2013. I have her parents’ names, I have the baptismal date of two of her siblings, I have her mother burial date and place and her village of origin: Mouzeuil-St-Martin, in Vendée.

The database is only in French but this will help you with the search criteria:

Nom de famille = Surname
Localité ou paroisse d'origine = Place or parish of origin
Département, état ou pays = Department, state or country
Lieu du mariage = Place of marriage
Rechercher (button) = Search
Effacer (button) = Reset

If you find your ancestor and there is a big bunch of text in French and you need the translation, just contact me, I will be happy to help! 🙂

As of April 15, 2014, the database had 5,809 entries. Good luck!





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.



Voyageur Contract Database: A Gold Mine for Genealogists and our Family

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:

As you can see, more work for me! 😉