52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #14: Matilda Tourville (née LaQuire) (1847-aft 1886)

I cannot post anything on Nettie Tourville, one of Charles and Sophia Arpajou’s children, before I tell you the story of my quest for Matilda Laquire (1847-?).

Never give up.

Used to a goldmine of genealogical information from the Quebec Catholic Records, I was at a lost with Matilda, the wife of Louis Tourville.

All the information I had was the following:

  • In 1866, she had a daughter baptized at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chateaugay, NY. Her maiden name was recorded as Sequin.
  • She appeared in the 1880 US Census as the wife of Louis Tourville in Grand Haven, MI, born about 1847 in Vermont and her parents, in Pennsylvania.

Never give up, I am telling you.

I don’t know why but I always thought that the fact that her parents were supposedly born in Pennsylvania might be a mistake. I mean her name, Sequin, looked a lot like Seguin or Séguin, which are very common surnames here in Quebec. But as Louis fought in the Civil War I thought that maybe he met her closer to Washington, DC, in Virginia, or even in Pennsylvania.

What to do?

I first checked the original document from St. Patrick’s to see if there was a mistake in the transcription. Nope. I then looked for all Sequin or Seguin families in Vermont, hoping to find her in 1850 or 1860: nothing.

Louis and Matilda’s daughter Lizzie died at age 1 in Grand Haven in 1869. No more clue. Next, I tried to find their daughters Jennie and Clarissa after 1880. Ah! that 1880-1900 gap! I did find a marriage for Clarissa Tourville and Edward Palmer in 1886 in Grand Haven but nothing more than that, except it confirmed that Matilda was still living in 1886 as she was one of the witnesses at the marriage. I did find an Edward Palmer in 1900 but he was married to another woman. Was he the same one? He was indeed as I found a second marriage for him in 1892 and that his obituary confirmed that he was the same Edward Palmer who married Clarissa. The Palmers’ came from Allegan County and I found the records for the cemetery family lot and no Clarissa.

By the way, the Clarissa Tourville Palmer case is still cold.

My first break came from my first trip to Salt Lake City. By looking at all the vital records for Ottawa County, I found the birth of Clarissa in 1869 (no maiden name for the mother) and I found a marriage for a Jennie Lovill married to a Marine Kamphout in 1883. That L from Lovill looked like a T so I decided to follow that track. I found the couple in the 1900 US Census and I found births in the vital records of Ottawa County (online) that matched the names on the census.

I had no proof that this person was indeed the daughter of Louis and Matilda but I had no other clue to pursue.

So I followed Jennie or Mary Jane as she was later called n the census until 1930 where she lived with her daughter in Wyandotte, near Detroit. Marinus Kamhout died in 1906 so in 1910 I found the daughters with their remarried mother in Michigan. In 1920, Mary Jane was back to the Kamhout surname. Who knows what happened with that marriage?

My second big break came from the Louttit Library in Grand Haven. A wonderful woman sent me some newspaper clips (they were not online at the time) as well as a cemetery lot listing for the family. I then had a date for the death of Mary Jane! But… nothing in the Grand Haven newspapers even if she was buried there in 1953.

I even ordered a microfilm through BANQ for a Detroit newspapers (one of her son died there) and I couldn’t find anything still.

Have I ever told you that I have never found ANYBODY in those funeral home repertoires? On another trip to Salt Lake City, I was going through the Michigan books on the US Book Floor and I saw a funeral home repertoire for Wyandotte. I opened it and I almost screamed (I think I did)!

There she was: Mary Jane Kamhout. And that funeral home index refered to a record of funeral in another book which was also on the shelves and it even looked like a DEATH certificate.

Hummm! Father: Louis Detourville. Mother: Matilda LaQuire. Where is that surname coming from? I was so excited I ran to a computer to search for Laquires. First thing I noticed, some Laquires are corrected to Lecuyer and that is also a common surname in Quebec. I also saw Saquire corrected to Laquire. Humm! Saquire and I had Sequin all along. So I went on the Lecuyer trail. Cold trail too.

Then I decided to go through the Vermont vital records for Laquires. I found out that some were living in Ferrisburgh very near the families I knew from the Tourvilles’ circle of family and friends. Interesting.

I looked through the Vermont Vital Records and found a Matilda Laquire married to a Lewis Covill (my second scream of the day). Remember that sometimes the Tourvilles were also called Courville in various catholic church records.

Matilda was the daughter of Mitchell Laquire and Mary German. I found two other marriages for children of Mitchell and Mary German. I could not find the family in censuses. They obviously came to the States after 1850 and the 1851 Canadian Census record for their parish were lost. I did find Matilda, living alone in 1860 in Vermont.

As the Laquire trail went cold also, I decided to go through the Germans. Hummm! Was it German for Lallemand, a French surname here? Nope. It was for Germain or St-Germain. So with a lot of research I did find the St-Germain in Quebec and in St. Mary’s Catholic Repertoire of Burlington. And there it was: Lequin. The name in Quebec was Lequin or Lequien.

After that, it was so easy.

Michel Lequin married Marie-Louise St-Germain on November 3, 1840, in Marieville, Québec. Mathilde was born May 13, 1847 in Mont-St-Grégoire. Michel died in Farnham in 1855, the record states he was living in the United States. Mary German may have remarried in Vermont but no trace of her after that.

As I mentioned before, the last trace of Matilda Laquire Tourville was in 1886 as she was the witness at Clarissa’s marriage. I will never give up. I am pretty sure that one of these days I will find her even if I have no trace of her death in Michigan, Minnesota or even Vermont. And of course, I looked for siblings’ obituaries. No such luck.

But my biggest break was this: while I was looking at the Vermont vital records index on microfilms in Montreal, I saw a child named German, father was Joseph German and the mother was Nettie TOURVILLE. Who was that Nettie?!

I suddenly remembered that years ago someone gave me the name of the children of Charles and Sophia Arpajou from the Clarence Tourville Book and that Sophia (married to Joseph Giguère as I proofed later) was mentioned as being married to a Joseph St-Germain. I never found the couple and as later I found the name of Joseph Giguère, I thought it was a simple mistake. Yeah, MY mistake.

Who was that Nettie? The answer in post #15 coming soon!


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.