The Origins of Here to Stay
In 1995, tracing my ancestry to the first of the Canadian colonists who bore my patronym intrigued me. Who were these of my people who came to North America four centuries ago? I knew names of my first progenitors on this continent, but I didn’t know much more about them.
Populating my Franco-North-American history with real-life people, I had been told, was not difficult to do. I could soon identify them.
Following my Franco-North-American history
Actually, it was easy to follow my genealogy back to the first of my ancestors to cross the Atlantic.
Because New France was a royal colony, reports were filed every year in Québec and Paris of births, marriages, deaths, contracts, court proceedings, and more. In addition, the Jesuits laboring among Indian populations or among the colonists sent yearly reports (the Jesuit Relations) to their superiors in Québec who then redacted these reports and sent copies to Paris. What the official records missed of Franco-North-American history is often picked up in these Relations. Then there was the superior of the Ursulines, Marie de l’Incarnation, who wrote 13,000 letters back to France. These letters recorded the weather, the illnesses, the harvest bounty —or lack thereof—as well as the docking of of ships bearing settlers to the colony and the latest gossip and scandal.
My first evening of research at the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society resulted in ascending a line of Ledouxs that arrived at the eleventh generation with Louis Doux who was present in May 1668 on a Confirmation list of people who received the sacrament from Bishop Laval. Louis figures at the sixteenth line of that document. (The first mention of Louis with his surname being Ledoux doesn’t appear until about seven years later—as I was to learn in the following months!)
Since ships did not begin arriving in Québec until June at the earliest as late winter departures from France risked storms, a May Confirmation date suggests an arrival the previous year at the latest. Only subsequent to this first mention of Louis does he appear on a number of records—further suggesting that he came in late 1667. Otherwise would he not appear on contracts or registry of sales in 1667 and earlier? No, he does not appear before May 1668 and is regularly mentioned in the colony after that date.
Based on the success of my first evening, I thought, “This genealogy is easy. Why not follow my matronym—Verreault—to the first ancestor in North America?”
So the following week, I returned to the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society and, that evening, became acquainted with the indentured migrant Barthélémy Verreault who arrived in Québec on November 5, 1662, before sailing on to Montréal later in the month. He married Marthe Quittel in September 1665. When had she come? So…
Why not learn about her?
I had to admit: I was clearly smitten!
Three years later
Eventually, I had identified 6,000 of the 8,000 ancestor possibilities one has at the thirteenth generation. (Obviously, in small population one finds many duplicates.) I now knew the majority of those who comprise the earliest of my Franco-North-American ancestry.
What was missing, and was soon to follow, was a deep dive into the history of the first generation: struggles with turning forests into arable and pasture lands, Indian wars, birthing, community organization, and even some everyday life.
Thus insights into their lives resulted from reading dozens of histories both in French and English.
In this category, I offer you snippets of my findings of my Franco-North-American history. The book Here to Stay is not yet published in the summer of 2021. I hope to do so in the coming year.
As was the custom in the colony, the wedding was set for a date soon after the contract signing. These were exceptional times. Winter was just three months away, and if Barthélémi and Marthe were to survive the long, cold months at the new farm in Chateau-Richer, there was much to be done. Until she […]
During his first decade in Canada, Louis did not marry. While his friend Adrien Sénécal was growing a family, Louis remained single, paying (one presumes) the bachelor tax. In the early 1670s, Louis moved from one settlement to another, but, by the end of the decade, he had become an habitant in Varennes where he […]
It is unlikely that either Barthélémy Verreault or Marthe Quittel, my maternal ancestors, came to their marriage with an expectation of romance. Marriage was a state of life, a way of surviving, of producing children who could take care of you in your old age. So much the better if the proposed partner was attractive […]
The “daughters of the king” were introduced to prospective husbands at the Ursuline convent in the Upper Town of Québec
Among the eight filles du roi aboard the Marie-Thérèse who were coming to find husbands was a woman from Normandy, Marthe Quittel, a Protestant from Rouen.
Realizing the role of women in increasing the population from within (vs. migration from without), Louis XIV encouraged female wards of the state to migrate to Canada by offering them incentives. Known as the daughters of the king…