Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!
Sunday, June 19th 2011

Gerald Ashley Micklon

Donald Royal Bowers
Omer Joseph Ouellette
Paul Eugene Ouellette
Eugene Fredette (Fradet)
My Funny, Grampa Roland Patry
Clarence Percival Micklon
Pepere Joseph Patry

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Franco-Americans That Built a Community in Maine.

Logging Wharf on the Kennebec River in Hallowell Maine

       The earliest recorded French~Canadian who arrived in Augusta, Maine was Gabriel Cotee' (Cote); he was listed as a taxpayer in the town, in 1828. The census reports for 1840 lists four French families, although the tax rolls indicated that there were several more. In 1850 the census contained six families; in 1860, ten families; in 1870, twelve families; and in 1880, fifty~three families. They were listed by census takers, but many were not included, perhaps due to the lack of compassion for the French~Canadians in the early days.
      The great influx of French immigrants occurred between 1880 and 1900. The question as to what brought these "foreigners" can be answered as follows: (1) The desire to own land which was not available in Canada; (2) the aspirations for advancement in the socio~economic world; (3) to escape the yoke of British dominance of their lives; (4) to enhance the Catholic church's position in it's attempt to Catholicize the state of Maine.
      The increase in Catholic population in Maine is traceable to the immigration of the Irish and French~Canadians - two racial groups with large family traditions. They constituted what has been called the first and second colonization of New England.
      The Irish constituted the predominant minority group in the decades prior to the Civil War, and, although this state of affairs continued during the postwar period, they eventually were outnumbered by the French~Canadians in Augusta.

      In the 1830's, construction of buildings and the Kennebec dam, later called the Edward's Mill Dam, which cost $300,000, required a tremendous number of laborers. This need was furnished by the Irish immigrants. Their trials were many, and this new minority in Augusta was hard pressed. Their survival can be attributed to the successful attempts of the Catholic church, which banded and guided them. The first St. Mary's Church was founded in 1836, in an abandoned Unitarian church, with visiting priests from North Whitefield, administering to the flock. 1*
      The depression of 1837 hit still harder at this group which was beginning to get adjusted, and caused the loss of it's church. Augusta reverted to a mission status for Catholics, again, under North Whitefield, and it wasn't until 1845 that a resident priest returned and a lot was purchased on State Street. Finally, the church opened formally for services in July of 1847.
      Again the pastor's services were lost through transfer and, for almost ten years, St. Mary's was under the jurisdiction of North Whitefield, once more. Finally, in 1856, St. Mary's began it's second phase of a long parish history, when Reverend Charles Egan assumed the duties of resident pastor.
      The situation in Augusta was the scene of a repressed Catholic minority in the Irishman's  struggle to maintain an existence and to improve their status. It was in this arena that the French~Canadians appeared, replacing the Irish as the lower~class citizens of the 1880's.
      In Canada, mounting pressures forced drastic measures on the ever growing French communities. Many decided to accept the invitation of the mill owners in the New England towns and cities. Some of the French did not come with the intent of establishing permanent residences, and hence there was much traveling back and forth over the Maine and Canadian border. However, the great majority remained, and it is estimated that there were 53,000 French~Canadians in Maine during the 1890's.
      Not all lived in textile towns. From the start, the Madawaskans numbered 16,000 at the turn of the century and gave some balance between factory and farm life.

By Edmond J. Massicotte

      Wherever they went, the French followed a similar pattern of life. The Quebec family and parish life were transferred to Maine's towns and cities, they formed a closely knit community around their parish church and their faith. They isolated themselves from the mainstream of the town's life and also from the Irish~Catholics of the locality whom they had displaced.
      From the 1840's through the 1900's, the migration of French speaking Canadians to Maine reached record proportions, which required controls to limit their numbers, in the early 1920's. this was accomplished mainly in order to stabilize the labor market in the area. The exodus from Canada began when the availability of land in Quebec and in other sections became restricted. Most French families that owned farmland in these locales came under the strict control of the local customs, government, and land speculators.
      In Canada, with land ownership saturated, growth and expansion of family holdings became impossible. Through lineal traditions, a father would bequeath to his heir to carry on. In this design, such geographical names as Les Concessions, des St. Amands were derived from clannish exploitation of the land by various families.
      In most areas of French Canada, it was nearly always the youngest who inherited the paternal property. When the eldest boy reached the age when he wished to establish himself, his parents still possessed their strength and were not planning to retire; accordingly, they were limited to giving their sons the means to set up a farm in a neighboring parish that had recently been settled and had land available at a better price. Often, a son who was married moved to the area of his in~laws. 2*
      The same plan was adopted along down the line. When the last son who was ready to head a farm remained, the father, approaching the age of retirement, and provided the son was of desirable intelligence, passed his holdings on to him. A condition was inserted, in the transfer of land that the son pension his parents for life under the provisions of a contract signed by a notary.
      However, the large number of offspring which were fostered precluded the distribution of land to the natural heirs. There just wasn't enough land to go around. Therefore, it became evident that if French~Canadians were to improve their conditions, they would of necessity have to immigrate to the south in order to survive.
      Most of the arrivals in Augusta in the 1880's came from the rural areas of Quebec Province and were spurred on by famine and the need to support large families. A great many who were single,  found employment in northern Maine as lumberjacks. The family minded man was hired for cheap wages in the imported labor pool. They were very poor, they needed work, and they could not be particular about the conditions. In most cases, the first job offered was accepted.
      The earliest Frenchman ever to settle in Old Hallowell came from France and could be cause for some confusion in the modern era. Genealogists have been frustrated in their quest for information relating to ancient settlers and in many cases have run into so~called brick walls, where it appears there is no information or data recorded to maintain continuity. In other examples, some are astonished to discover that they are not descendants of persons which would seem to be the normal evolution of families. Such a case history is contained in Nash's History of Augusta which contains information to such a change of name, in this case concerning the name Davis. In Old Hallowell, (including, generally, the greater, tricity areas), a settlement was called New France. This area, in the central western section of modern Farmingdale, extended two or three miles, southwest of Loudon Hill and was reached by a road known today as Maple Street, at it's eastern end.
      Thomas D'Avis, son of John and Betsy, was born in Ingorville, France, in 1762 3*. Nash informs us that "he came to America in the French Service during the Revolutionary War and at the close of the war remained in this country and lived for awhile, in New Hampshire. He came to Old Hallowell in 1786 and began the settlement of New France, which was so called from his being a Frenchman." D'Avis married Margaret Bungough (Bunyow) of Pownelborough (modern day Dresden), and such intentions was recorded and filed on October 20th, 1788. "They had six children of whom three were sons. The youngest was Thomas Jefferson Davis, who succeeded to the homestead which occupied (circa 1800) a beautiful situation about half a mile from the nearest road."
      There is a cause to ponder and reflect on the part of those retaining the Davis family name, and descendants from Thomas D'Avis of New France in 1786, should be especially enlightened.
      In the period prior to the 1880's, the French immigrants to Augusta were few. Those who appeared earlier were integrated into the Anglo~Saxon way of life. Records of the census list Antoine Guoir, who came to Augusta in 1820 from France and who married Sylvia Savage, daughter of Joel Savage. He purchased a farm in the northern area of Augusta on modern day, Old Belgrade Road. He was the first permanent French resident to be recorded. The tax rolls of Augusta record that he acquired property of $3,200 value (140 acres) by 1853, as a farmer. The entire family, Antoine, his wife Sylvia, and son George L., with his wife, are interred in Bracket's Corner Cemetery, on the Old Belgrade Road, in Augusta. The gravestones are the oldest marked graves of French settlers in Augusta. The name, D'Avis, is now extinct. There are now, descendants in the area named, Davis.
      Gabriel Cotee', noted earlier, was listed as a taxpayer of the town of Augusta in 1828. He was the first French~Canadian. Town Order Book of Augusta, entry #219 of August 1, 1828, authorized "Gabriel Cotee' a payment of $7.50 for highway work" on July 12, 1828. Cotee' is not listed in the census of 1830, and it is concluded that he moved on to other areas. He is probably not the only French~Canadian to have attempted to settle in Augusta, however, no one else is recorded.
      Several families are noted in the 1840 census. Leonard Busha (Boucher) entered as a laborer with a family, including a wife, thirty to forty years of age, three sons, ages five to ten, one son and one daughter under five. This family is not found in the following, 1850 census.
      Nash's, History of Augusta lists, as a taxpayer in Augusta, the name of Leon Bushee (Boucher), age twenty~eight. He also was included in the 1840 census. He was an immigrant from Canada and was posted as illiterate. His family, including a wife, Helen, twenty~six, three sons, Fidele, six, Baleine (Barney), four, Se'rapha (Se'raphin), two, and Mary, one.
      Another from the census report in 1840: Louise Charlante, age forty to fifty. She was listed as working in manufacturing. Later, she became the operator of a boardinghouse on Capital Street. Her family included one male, fifteen to twenty, two females, and one male under five.
      Joseph Delamaire was listed as a taxpayer in 1840.
      John Pullen (Poulin), age twenty~six, was an immigrant from Canada. The census record lists his name as Pullen, but Nash's History of Augusta includes his name as John Pooler in 1847, as a taxpayer. The family included one male, aged twenty to thirty, and one female, aged fifteen to twenty.
      In 1847, Alonzo Gaubert appeared in Augusta as an immigrant from France. He worked as a tradesman and later became the owner of a bookstore on Water Street. He also sold dry goods. According to Kennebec Journal advertisements during the period, he was a stagecoach passenger agent. He owned a house and lot on Winthrop Street ( of which, I lived next door to, in 1990.), which in 1853 had a valuation assessment of $3,900. The name is not included on the rolls of modern Augusta.
      Others who are recorded were Cyrene'es Pullen (Poulin), an immigrant from Canada. His family included one male, aged twenty to thirty, one female, aged fifteen to twenty, and two males, aged ten to fifteen. Peter Boucher was a laborer from twenty to thirty, one female, age fifteen to twenty, and two males, ages ten to fifteen. Peter Boucher, a laborer from Canada and appears in the census of 1850. A very close interrelationship existed between the families of Leon and Peter, which will be discussed later.
      Another immigrant from France, who became prominent as the founder of the "Augusta Steam and Dye House" on Water Street, in 1867, was Emile Barbier. He died in 1894, and his family name has, since disappeared from Augusta.
      Historic records indicate that from Augusta, during the Civil War, volunteers for service from the French~Canadians came from the "Busheys". 4* Under the law of the land, substitutes were acceptable to replace citizens who had been drafted for service, and it appears the Bushees, having no civil status, enrolled as volunteers and received a bonus estimated at $100.00 each for service. Those involved were William Bushea, Charles Bushey, and Joseph Bushey. The names were corrupted due to the fact none of them could read or write English. A note if interest in connection with the service of Joseph Bushey is worthy of mention. He appears on the rolls, listed under the name of "Bushey", however, he was the only casualty of the Civil War from the Augusta French~Canadian ranks. He is immortalized on one of the plaques of the beautiful monument, erected in Augusta's Memorial Circle and further corrupted as Joseph "Bushea".

Civil War Monument with 1st French Casualty ~ Joseph Bushea
      A great many more have appeared in Augusta prior to the 1880's, but their stay was of short duration and was never officially recorded.
      Those who did remain, did not become a part of the French community after 1880 but became integrated into the Anglo~Saxon orb of the community. The Bouchers and the Poulins became Anglicized, and their descendants are purported to be in the Bush and Pullen or Pooler successions. No relationship can be found with the Bouchers or the Poulins who arrived after 1880.
      With the advent of the textile, shoe, and paper industries in New England, labor was extremely short. Mill owners devised a plan to induce French~Canadians to fill the void with promises of good jobs and homes. Up to this time, the Irish minority had been exploited in this capacity, but their numbers could not supply the needed labor to sustain the expanding industries.
      The French came in droves: Families uprooted themselves and liquidated whatever link existed with the past. They came overland and by rivers. The trek was long and harsh. It is reported that several could not afford the cost of transportation and traveled the entire distance from Quebec to Augusta on foot. The majority, however, used the railroad, which provided greater comfort. It was not uncommon to see an entire family disembark in Augusta, with each member carrying his share of the household goods. All sorts of conveyances were used to transport these newcomers to their homes, lavish buggies, commercial wagons, drays, and hay racks. Some walked.

"The Yankees drew back from them, in the mills and on the streets. But the men of P.Q. did not mind. They had friends enough to keep them company. They kept coming by new batches, cousins and cousins and cousins. They wrote back home: 'Big money down here, Uncle Amadis, leave the farm. We only work fourteen hours a day here. And on Sundays we wear our fine clothes and do nothing but smoke. It is easy to learn, the weaving. Sacre' bleu! It is easy! You will get on. Of course, it is not home, not like Canada. The people have not our ways. But there is money to think of. Even little Pierre has a pair of shoes. Think of that!' " 5*

      Thus, it can be concluded that land pressure in Canada created a structural problem in the society of French~Canadians which necessitated the change, cultural as well. French society was experiencing a trial~and~error behavior in an attempt to find the solution to the problem. The growing lack of land forced parents to seek other outlets for their children.
      Conflict grew between the old patterns of establishment and lack of land, increasing attempts to find a better way. The great runoff of surplus population to the towns and cities of New England took unlimited quantities of labor in the later nineteenth century, as the mill towns and their industrialization provided a solution which evolved to give this minority a permanent place in the history of Augusta and the state of Maine.

      1* Chronology of St. Mary's Church, Augusta, Maine. Diocese of Portland, Maine, Archives: 1835~1972. 
      2* Marcel Rioux and Yves Martin, French~Canadian Society, vol. 1 (Toronto-Montreal: McLelland and Steward Limited, (1964), p. 34
      3* Nash, Charles E. History of Augusta. Charles E. Nash and Son, Augusta, Maine, 1904. Edith L. Harpy, Augusta, Maine, 1961, p. 325
      4* Kingsbury, Henry D. & Deyo, Simeon L. Illustrated History of Kennebec County 1625~1892. New York: H.W. Blake & Co., 1892, pp. 122-123, 136-137, 171-172.
      5* Coffin, Robert P. Tristam. Kennebec~Cradle of Americans. New York: Farar and Rinehart, Inc., 1937, pp. 193-194.
      6* Rioux and Martin, op. cit., p. 149.
And Maurice Violette, The Franco~Americans, pp. 20-28  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Featured Biography- Ancestor Ren`e Ouellette 1639 - 1675

Ancestor, Rene' Ouellet

      Riviere~Ouelle was a charming village which received it's name from one of the directors of the 'Company of One~Hundred Associates', Louis Houel, the Sieur de Petit~Pre', in France. Benjamin Sulte was right when he said that ancestor Ouellet had nothing to do with the name of this picturesque locality. In a beautiful script, Rene' Ouellet signed his name as Rene' Houallet. This diminutive means ' a small hoe', like a trowel. Most of us prefer a variation of Ouellet meaning 'oeiller', a carnation, because no one can say whether ancestor Ouellet was a nobleman become a commoner or a commoner become a nobleman!
         The question is raised in the reading of his marriage
contract presented on March 4th, 1666 at Quebec. Notary Romain Becquet had indeed written that "Rene' was the son of Francois, Collector General of the Province of Poitou, and of Elisabeth Barre', from the town of Beaupere, Bishopric of Lucon". The following statement is more questionable; "the fiancee', Anne Rivet was the widow of 'Gregoire Hise', during his lifetime, Collector of the Eighth of Bretagne". The Marquis de Tract, Monsieur the Governor de Courcelles and Jean~Paul Maheu were present, signing with their admirable initials. The contract also noted the presence of Intendant Talon and the widow of Louis Daillebout, himself a former governor. However, Anne Rivet presented herself as a protege of the King, bringing property to the marriage with a value of 300 livres, a worthy dowry for any respectable lady.
        Thus, began the life of this couple, passing from prestigious parents, to a humble but more promising future for the thousands of Ouellet or Ouellette descendants.

A Parisian in Quebec~

          When the pastor of the Cathedral of Quebec drew up the marriage act of Rene' Houallet, on March 8th, 1666, he wrote that "The father and mother of the groom were living in the parish of St~Jacques du haut~Pas, archdiocese of Paris, and the bride, Anne Rivet, was originally from Saint~Germain, Bishoric of Seas in Basse ~Normandie. Abbot Henri de Berniers does not mention the names of the bride's parents. Present at the ceremony as witnesses were Martin Boutet, Pierre Soumandre and Mathurin Mauricet.
        It is necessary to go back to 1180 to discover a monastery in Paris, where Italian monks, originally from the Altopasso in Tuscany. were living; hence the French name of Haut~Pas. For centuries these religious brethren kept up their charitable works. During the time of ancestor Ouellet their large hospital had become the "Seminaire de l'Oratoire". Beginning in 1630, the parishioners of St.~Jacques added a new chancel to the former chapel. However, Rene' Ouellet was not around to see the new facade and bell tower which were built after his departure in 1675.
        In what year was Rene' Ouellet baptized? In Paris, Archange Godbout found only one document concerning the family of our ancestor; 
"On the 1st of June,1639, before notaries Gaultier and Poureil, Me Francois Houalclerk to five large farms in France. Elisabeth Barre', his wife, living in Paris on rue des Urselins, parish of Saint-Landry, made a mutual donation to the remaining survivor. 

        The legal instructions of the time would be dispensed within his contract, if they had children, Rene' would have been born after 1639 and after his family moved to the parish of Saint~Jacques u Haut~Pas. Was Rene' an only son? Did he attend school for several years? When did he decide to go to Canada? What ship brought him to the shores of North America?
       Generations of researchers have asked these questions without obtaining satisfactory answers. The book 'The Armuriers of New France' contains a fragmentary text, from the notes of P. Laurant, in which a transaction is recorded, on September 26th, 1662, between Father Claude~Jean Allouez and Rene' Vallet at Trois~Rivieres. It seems that Rene' Vallet agreed to work for the term of one year at the Jesuits' forge. For this, compensation would be 150 livres. Historian, Marcel Trudel concludes that this entry does, indeed, refer to our Rene' Vallet or Ouellet.
        On May 27th, this twenty~four year old gunsmith from Saumur, in Anjou, agreed to work for the great explorer, Medard Chouart des Grosseillers, then living at Trois~Riviere. In addition to the seventy~five livres per year, Rene' was to receive lodging, food, and drink from his cousin, Christophe Gerbault, a soldier. Chouart and Gerbault signed the act before notary Moreau at La Rochelle. The two disturbing facts about this: Rene' Vallet made his mark before Father Allouez at Trois~Riviere in spite of the fact that Rene' Ouellet knew how to write, very well. Was it not to offend the notary that he made a mark instead of signing his name? Perhaps the notary had presumed that Rene' did not know how to write. At La~Rochelle and at Trois~Riviere, why a 'V' instead of a 'U'? Or was Rene' Vallet really Rene' Ouellet? A mystery...
        In conclusion, Rene' Ouellet arrived in Canada, probably aboard the good ship Saint~Andre', in the summer of 1659, to go to work at Trois~Riviere, in the service of Medard Chouart, for three years.
Courtesy Archives Nationales du Quebec
 The Colonization of Quebec
         So, our ancestor Ouellet quietly entered the halls of Canadian history. At his marriage, he presented himself as a citizen of Quebec. The book entitled 'L'histoire de l' lle de Orleans' reports him in 1664 or 1665, as living on the next to the last piece of land at Saint~Famille, between the farms of Pierre Mailloux and Guillaume Bauche', almost across the river from Saint~Anne de Beaupre'. The census of 1667 reports the existence of a certain Rene' Oudin. Could not this name be confused with that of Rene' Ouellet, working on the farms of Msgr. de Laval with Pierre Roberge, Pierre Brulot and Jean Auray?
        On April 25th, 1667, Rene' signed as a witness to the marriage contract of Mathias Campagna, farmer for Charles Gaultier dit Boisverdun on the l'lle d'Orle'ans. 
        In the absence of Msgr. de Laval, on February 6th, 1673, the Abbot Dudouyst, administrator, officially initialed a land grant to Ouellet. Let us read about "the number of three arpents of land, parish of Sainte~Famille, crossing to the north", the owner wrote. Notary Vachon, will only be able to fish across from his concession. Why does the text contain the following, unusual words; "he (Msgr. de Laval) wanted to make and ratify and to inhabit the land's of the uninhabited concessions?". Had Rene' already begun to clear this plot for several years, as many serious authors claim? Did he wish to own a deed in order to resell it? Why were the witnesses young men from Beauport, ie., Jean Crete and Nicolas Belanger? Was the Ouellet family living at Beauport?
        Sixteen days later, Rene' Ouellet sold the same three arpents of land, situated between Bauche' and Mailoux to Robert Coutard. The notary specified: "with this cleared land there is a cabin and a shed. "The buyer promised to pay one~hundred silver livres in two installments.
        On March 13th of the same year, surgeon Timothe'e Roussel from Quebec, proprieter of a farm situated between those of Germain Lepage and the aforesaid, Robert Coutard, offered to rent it to Ouellet for the paltry sum of twenty minots of wheat a year! Rene' could live in the cabin but must build a shed, twenty by fifteen feet, to store the grain and maintain the fences, etc. Why was this lease never signed?
        Where did the Ouellet family live then? On October 13th, 1674, before notary Rageot, Rene' Ouellet, "inhabitant of the seigneurie of Beaupre", rented for one year, another farm on the lle. belonging to Pierre Soumandre' ", an edge~tool maker from Quebec. It was the first time that our ancestor became responsible for an old cow of seven years and a pair of oxen. This farm, measuring four arpents in frontage, was situated between those of Thomas Rondeau and Mathieu Cote', at Saint~Pierre. It was rented for six years in October of 1677 by Nicholas Goulet.

 Reste En Paix
      If there was ever a humble and retiring ancestress it was, indeed, Anne Rivet. Nevertheless, she gave her husband three hardy sons: Abraham~Joseph, Mathurin~Rene', and Gre'goire, all baptized at Saint~Famille between 1667 and 1672, confirmation that the Ouellet family was living in this parish. The sons all, headed families; the first, by marrying Francoise Lizot, and Reine Meneux; the second by marrying Angelique Lebel, daughter of ancestor Nicolas; and the third, by marrying Anne Lizot and Madeleine Dube'.
        Anne Rivet, after less than ten years of marriage, fell gravely ill and died on April 5th, 1675. Two days later, she was buried in the cemetery of Chateau~Richere. Did these two days between the death and the burial mean that it was necessary to transport the body from Ill to Chateau~Richere over an icy bridge? Was it a question of bad transport due to temperature or thawing? Reading between the lines of the lives of this family contains more history than all of the text, itself.
        In the autumn of 1670, Francois Pollet de la Combe Pocati'ere, accompanied by Jean Langlois de Beauport, settled on his fief of Grande~Anse. After his unexpected death on March 20th, 1672, his widow Marie~Ann Juchereau, "pulled strings on her father's side", according to historian Gerard Ouellet, and on October 29th, 1672, obtained the seigneurie of Grande~Anse or La Pocatie're from Frontenac. In 1674, Jean Mignault of Beauport, became ne of concessionaires. The permits to clear land must have been given verbally. Nicolas Lebel, owned the land bearing the number 18.
        After the death of Anne Rivet, Rene' Ouellet put his affairs in order before moving to La Pocatie're, about 1677 or 1678. It is there that we find him on February 6th, 1679, at the time of his marriage to Therese Mignault, daughter of Jean, widow of Nicolas Lebel, and mother of four children. The missionary, Pierre Thury blessed their union in Marin Fouquet's house, before Nicolas huot dit St.~Laurent and Madeliene, the bride's sister.
        Rene' then concentrated all his efforts on clearing his new wife's land. The seigneuresse Jachereau became demanding with her censitaires. In 1683, her marriage to the wastrel francois d'Auteuil, a sort of "bleeder of money", did not improve the situation. Several colonists preferred to go to Riviere~Ouelle to escape her ill temper. On March 15th, 1680, the seigneur of Riviere~Ouelle, Jean~Baptiste~Francois Deschamps granted Rene' Ouellet a piece of land measuring eight arpents of frontage by forty~two in depth. Rene' lived there for seventeen consecutive years. His wife, nevertheless, kept the property of her first husband at Sainte~Anne.
        The census of 1681 affirms that Rene' and Therese had six arpents of land under cultivation, seven head of cattle and one gun, with Nicolas Huot and Jean Grondin for neighbors. At this time, how did the children from the first marriage, to Anne Rivet, earn a living? The eldest, Abraham~Joseph had been entrusted, it seems, to the home of Jacques Meneux, from Saint~Laurent, I.O., where he was working as a servant. Mathurin~Rene', twelve years old, was in the service of Msgr. de Laval on July 30th, 1681. As for Gregoire, 11 years old, remained with his aunt, Madeleine Migneault, wife of Noel Pelletier, at Grande~Anse des Aulnaies. Such was the "Aid to Dependent Children" of those days.
        Let us say, right away, that the new Rene'~Therese couple brought six offspring into the world: two boys and four girls. Se'bastien went to find his future life in the Lizot home; Francois preferred Marie~Anne Bouchard; Angelique~Marguerite married Ignace Berube', then married Jean~Baptiste Pelletier; Francoise married Andre' Mignier dit Lagace'; Marie~Therese married Charles Pelletier and Marie~Anne married Charles Boucher. All of these marriages took place at Riviere~Ouelle, with the exception, perhaps, of Francois', because his marriage record was not entered in the registry.


        With active men like the seigneur Deschamps and Robert Leveque, ancestor Ouellet knew stability at Riviere~Ouelle. The children married and founded families. The little Lebel children inherited the land of their late father. It was valued at eight~hundred livres, that is, two~hundred livres for each heir. Angelique Lebel, wife of Mathurin~Rene' Ouellet, took on double~duty by adding the rights of her husband to hers. Rene' and Therese Migneault made some special arrangements. in order to keep them nearby, they detached three arpents of frontland from their eight arpent farm in favor of Rene's son and Therese's daughter. The third arpent was an exchange with one coming to Angelique at La Pocatie're, But on October 2nd, 1695, Mathurin~Rene' sold his three arpents of land to Pierre Soucy and went to settle at Kamouraska, on a concession with five arpents of frontage.
         As for Rene', whose talents for farming were not the best, he was rather, up to his ears in debt. One example of an attempt to collect from Rene':

"At the request of Francoise~Catherine Juchereau,
widow of Francois~Vianney Pachot, merchant during
his lifetime at Quebec, a summons to Rene' Houellet,
from Grande~Anse, so that he may pay 157 livres and
6 sols for merchandise sold and delivered, with
interest and expenses."

        In addition, genealogist J.~Eugene Ouellet maintains that the named Jeanneau availed himself, by ruse, but legally, of a part of the land that Rene' Ouellet had in the seigneurie of la Boutellerie. Then did Rene' and Therese move once again?

        In 1690, at Riviere~Ouelle, Rene' Ouellet and his sons joined parishioners, led by their curate, to prevent Phipps's soldiers from landing. The group successfully used the strategy of surprise and trickery.
        Rene' and Therese enjoyed their golden years at the home of their son, Abraham~Joseph, living in the present~day territory of St~Roch~des~Aulnaies. when he reached his 80's, Rene' decided to draw up his will. This was on August 7th, 1721. Etienne Janneau wrote:

"Renne' Houellet... parish Saint~Anne living at
present in the house of Joseph... commends his
soul to God... and I wish and request that one of
the two arpents of front land by a depth of one
arpent... be given in perpetuity to the church of 

This square arpent had first belonged to Nicolas Lebel and Therese Migneault.
        Rene' Ouellet died the following year and was buried at Sainte~Anne~de~la~Pocatiere on January 15th. It was probably abbot Maurice Imbault, present at the reading of the will, who said the fifty masses promised after the death of Rene'.
        On August 23rd, 1728, Therese Migneault, living at Petit~Kamouraska, gave her son~in~law, Gabriel Bouchard, the remainder of the land near the site of the future church of Sainte~Anne. the buyer was to pay 180 livres and have ten masses said for the intentions of his mother~in~law after her
death. The contract was signed in Francois Ouellet's house.
        The widow of Rene' Ouellet died and was buried at Kamouraska on December 5th, 1728. Therese, baptized at Quebec, by Father Poncet on September 5th, 1651, was therefore, seventy~seven years old when she left her Lebel and Ouellet families.
        The Ouellets have spread throughout the eastern part of Canada and the United States. They have representatives in every trade and every profession. The first Ouellet to be elected delegate was named Edouard (1860~1931). He represented the county of Yamaska at the Assemblee' Nationale for eighteen years. The first Ouellet priest, Louis~Charles~Arthur (1824~1891), a veritable apostle, was born at Riviere~Ouelle. Anne~Marie Ouellet (1873~1943), known as Reine du Clerge', founded the Servants of Notre'~Dame, in 1929, at Lac~au~Saumon. She was the director of her congregation for twenty~one years. Other descendants have given two bishops to the Canadian Church, Msgr. Andre' Ouellet, former Bishop of Mont~Laurier, and Msgr. Gilles Ouellet, P.M.E., Archbishop of Rimouski.

"A Little Hoe Can Turn Over the Soil in a Great Garden."

Written and researched by Thomas J. Laforest

Ouellet Family Name Variations~  
Aillet, Ailette, Auclair, Boncourage, Chaume, Crochet, Deschenaux, Houallet, Houallette, Lesperance, Menage, Oilette, Oualet, Ouallet, Ouelett, Ouellette, Ouillette, O'Willet, Oylet, Paincor, Wallette, Wellet, Wellette, Wells, Willard, Willet, Willett, Woolet, Wouallet, and Woullette. 

A New Beginning- Part 2- Selected Passages From Writings By Gerard J. Brault

  Making the Rounds to Neighboring Homes on Ash Wednesday

                                 By Edmond  J. Massicotte~1911                                 

         "  In the nineteenth century, nationalistic ideologues in Quebec developed the concept that French~Canadians were duty bound to preserve their cultural identity. For many, this notion became indistinguishable from the view that French~Canadians were called upon to fulfill a sacred mission, namely to preserve Catholicism in America, and that this mission could best be accomplished by maintaining their mother tongue and customs, and by staying on the land. This view came to be called, La survivance.
        This messianic and agrarian ideology was associated with the myth of a 'Golden Age', at a time when inhabitants were devout, hard working farmers, toiling in peace and harmony, benevolently, watched over by wise old parish priests. A series of sketches by Edmond J. Massicotte transposed this long ago period of happiness and and prosperity to the recent past. For example, La be'ne'diction du Jour de l'An (1912) is a dramatic rendering of the traditional New Year's Day blessing. Massicotte's drawings depict real~life people in authentic settings, but like Norman Rockwell's illustrations of the American scene, they are suffused with sentimentality and nostalgia.

La be'ne'diction du Jour de l'An
 By Edmond J. Massicotte~ 1912
               At first, Anglo~Saxons in Canada (les Anglais) posed the main threat. But, beginning almost in the middle of the nineteenth century, emigration to New England loomed as an equally disturbing menace. Better than anyone else, Louis He'mon (1880~1913) summed up turn~of~the~century French~Canadian survivance ideology in his novel,  Maria Chapdelaine, first published in 1914. (A Frenchman, He'mon only lived two~and~a~half years in Quebec before being accidentally killed by a train at the age of thirty-three.) On the surface, the story of a young woman's gradual resignation to frontier life in Quebec's Lake St. John country, portrayed in realistic terms as filled with endless toil and danger, the novel is also a paean to deep-seated loyalties. There is a celebrated passage at the end of the novel, notably the proud affirmation "Nous sommes venus il y a trois cents ans, et nous sommes reste's"   (We came three hundred years ago, and we stayed), strikes a responsive chord in most French~Canadians to this day."

1. The french-Canadian Heritage In New England by Gerard J. Brault
 2.Images- Edmond J. Massicotte, Nos Canadiens d'auttrefois: 12 grandes compositions (Montreal: Granger Fre`eres, 1923.
3. Guide officiel des Franco-Americains 1931(Auburn Rhode Island: Albert Belanger, 1931)
4. Gerard J. Brault, "Etat pr`esent des e'tudes sur les centres franco-ame'ricains de la Nouvelle-Angleterre (Quebec City: Hardy, 1891) referring to Vicero.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Roots of Franco-American Culture - Part 1- Selected Passeges From Writings By Gerard J. Brault

        Quebec City, founded in 1608, was the first permanent French settlement in North America.More than two-and-a-half centuries of history, high in color and drama, separate the establishment of the earliest French trading posts along the St. Lawrence River and, to the east, in Acadia, and the first great wave of the French~Canadian emigration to New England.

         In 1759 a battle lasting a mere twenty minutes on the Plains of Abraham, before the walls of Quebec City, sealed the fate of New France. Although the British would, eventually, predominate in Canada, the French inhabitants of Quebec and certain other areas of that country would succeed in maintaining their language, traditions, and separate nationality. This historic struggle is indelibly engraved on the French~Canadian mind and explains, in a large measure, the extraordinary persistence of certain cultural traits among Franco~Americans, even after several generations.

      "Another factor that contributed to this remarkable survival was the French~Canadian immigrants' sentimental conception of their ancestral way of life, for many it was a deep attachment, and their frequent return trips to their native villages to keep in close touch with relatives  and revive old memories. Their descendants, too, kept such feelings alive with repeated visits." ~ Gerard J. Brault

        In recent years, many French~Canadians and Franco~Americans have taken an interest in their French ancestors and, thanks to vastly enhanced travel opportunities, have been able to visit France and experience French life and culture. With the advancement of technology and the internet, they have also begun to learn more about their forebears who lived during the early years of the colony. Their ancestors are no longer remote and vague participants in a kind of costume drama: with the help of the internet genealogists and family historians, and of living museums in historic areas of French Canada, their forbears have become real people, their own flesh and blood, relatives with everyday concerns. One such voyage of discovery, Gerard J. Brault's own, will be discussed later.
        Until recently, most French~Canadians and Franco~Americans conceived of their roots in terms of their immediate past, the kind of people their parents and grandparents were, and how they lived not so long ago in rural Canada.

1. The french-Canadian Heritage In New England by Gerard J. Brault

 2.Images- Edmond J. Massicotte, Nos Canadiens d'auttrefois: 12 grandes compositions (Montreal: Granger Fre`eres, 1923.
3. Guide officiel des Franco-Americains 1931(Auburn Rhode Island: Albert Belanger, 1931)
4. Gerard J. Brault, "Etat pr`esent des e'tudes sur les centres franco-ame'ricains de la Nouvelle-Angleterre (Quebec City: Hardy, 1891) referring to Vicero.