Ville-Marie

A newspaper article caught my eye this morning.

“After years of research, officials at Montreal’s archaeology and history museum say they’re now able to pinpoint the precise location of the city’s first European settlement.”

The settlement was known as Ville-Marie and, of course, some of our ancestors were there!  I have blogged about them  before.  See here and here.

You can read more about this discovery at CBC.

 

 

Finding the missing child

Researching ancestors is an ongoing process.  There are always records that elude discovery; people for whom you can never answer the question “what happened to them?” Today I am sharing the story and excitement of finally finding a missing child.

The story began when I first started researching the family of Jean Baptiste Bernardin and his wife Marie Charlotte Taillefer.  I wrote about them here.  A distant relative had shared with me one of the books written by Professor Charles Bernardin, who had done  extensive research many years ago.

One thing about the Professor’s research intrigued me.  According to the Professor, Jean Baptiste Bernardin and his wife Marie Charlotte Taillefer had 12 children, yet my research had uncovered 13 children.  The Professor’s list of children had a 4 year gap in birth dates between 1820 and 1824, which was unusual in French Canada.

I had found baptismal certificates for two sons named Charles.  Charles Michel born in 1823 and Charles Jules born in 1837.

Bernardin Charles Michel b1823 baptism excerpt

Baptism of Charles Michel Bernardin 29 Jan 1823, Nicolet (cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste) > Drouin Collection

Bernardin Charles Jules b1837 baptism excerpt

Baptism of Charles Jules Bernardin 27 Feb 1837, Nicolet (cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste) Drouin Collection

For some reason, the Professor’s research had not uncovered the baptismal record of Charles Michel. Therefore, he believed that his direct ancestor was Charles Jules who had married  Victoire Peloquin in 1854. I questioned that since Charles Jules would have been only 17 years old at the time.  I believed that it was Charles Michel, born in 1823, who married  Victoire.

In addition, the Professor had overlooked the fact that his ancestor’s gravestone gave his initial as M. and his birth date as 1823.

Bernardin Charles Michel b1823 Grave St. Mary's Cemetary

St. Mary’s Cemetery, Lawrence, Massachusetts. Picture posted with the kind permission of Charles (Pete) Bernardin

So what ever happened to Charles Jules, the “missing” child? Other than his baptismal record, I had found no trace of him.  Then recently the Professor’s son found my blog and shared some background documents of his Father’s with me.  One of these was an overview of the Bernardin family written in 1936 by Yvonne Bernardin (Sister St. Lucille), a great-granddaughter of Jean Baptiste Bernardin and Marie Taillefer.  In it she writes of a son called “Gilles” who:

“secretly answered the call for volunteers of the Army of the United States, possibly recruiting for the 1848 War with Mexico.  Only after he had crossed the frontier was his father notified of his intention to join the American Army and nevermore was any news heard of the fugitive.  Conjecture after conjecture as to Gilles’ whereabouts and doings would burn the anguished minds of the afflicted parents whose grief lasted as long as their life.  Many a time the aged sire, ready to partake of his meal, burst into tears at the thought of his prodigal son and turned away without eating a morsel.”

Another document was a memoir by Marie-Louise Hamel (Mrs. Therrien), granddaughter of  Jean Baptiste Bernardin and Marie Taillefer . It includes this:

“Everything was going well when suddenly Gilles, who had military blood in his veins, decided to go off to war in the United States, and unfortunately, never came back, nor was ever heard from again.  This was an enormous grief for his dear parents.  It aged his father and weighed heavily on the soul of his mother, who often used to say to us: “Dear God, if my Gilles is alive, push him toward us.  If he is dead, let his spirit appear before me and tell me where he is.”  It was really very sad for everyone.”

My first thought on reading these documents was that Gilles must be the missing Charles Jules! The names “Gilles” and “Jules” could easily be confused in an oral interview!

The Professor knew of these stories and investigated whether or not a Gilles Bernardin had become a soldier in the United States.  He concluded that these were just family legends and that no such person existed. Of course, there is much more information available now than when the Professor was doing his research.  Plus, he did not know that he was missing a child!

Searching through Civil War records online (Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System) I discovered that a “Julius Bernarden” was a Private in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 47th Regiment.  Using the “United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” at FamilySearch, I also found out that he had applied for an Invalid Pension. With this information I was able to request his pension records, from NARA (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

Pension index

It was months before I received all the files….Eureka!  It’s him! “Julius” Bernardin was born in Nicolet, Lower Canada. He enlisted in the Union Army on June 15, 1861, serving as a Private in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 47th Regiment.  He was discharged February 16, 1863 at Point Pleasant, Virginia, his discharge certificate being signed by the surgeon in charge of the General Hospital.

Although all the official government documents list him as “Julius”, he signed his name as “Jueles”.

Bernardin Charles Jules b1837 signature

On April 1, 1863, he applied for an Invalid Pension.  In this application he states:

“that at or near a place called Sewell Mountain [West Virginia] in the month of January 1862, he caught a succession of colds, which resulted from exposure while standing on guard duty; which resulted in lung disease.  That he is by occupation a farmer & unable to perform manual labor, which resulted from this lung disease.”

He was granted a pension of $6 per month. On December 15, 1863 he applied for an increase in his pension, stating that:

“ his disability stated in his former declaration has increased so that he has lost his speech & is so disabled by consumption as not to be able to work.”

On April 8, 1864 he was granted an increased pension of $8 per month. His address is given as 57 East Third St., Cincinnati, Ohio, which turns out to have been a boarding house.

And there the records stop.

I was so hoping that the NARA pension records would record a death date, or at least indicate when pension payments stopped, but alas they don’t.  I have not been able, so far, to find a death date, a burial record or a grave.  Given the state of his health, I expect he died in 1864/65.

I don’t know exactly when he left home.  His father, Jean Baptiste, died in 1857, so he had obviously left by then.

Why did he never contact his family back in Quebec?  A question that will never be answered.

Of all the interesting stories I’ve discovered, I must admit I never expected to find a Civil War soldier in our family’s past.

Here’s a chart showing Mémère’s relationship to Charles Jules Bernardin.

Relationship chart

 

Happy 100th birthday Mom

If my Mother, Madeleine Hogue, nee Vaillancourt, was still alive, June 6th would be her 100th birthday.  We would be having a big celebration.  Mom would, as usual, have had her hair done, and we would have shopped for a new dress. Children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would have gathered together. There would have been flowers, food, wine, cake, and much merriment.

Sadly she only saw her 90th.  Unfortunately by that point her health was failing, she was in a nursing home, and though family gathered, it was not quite the party we would have wished. Mom’s mind stayed sharp to the very end, but her body let her down.

Madeleine was born in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, the youngest of nine children to Georges Vaillancourt and Marie Anne Girard. When she was about two years old the family moved to Regina, Saskatchewan.  Here’s a picture of Mom at a very young age.

young Madeleine

Madeleine teenager

 

And one as a teenager.

 

 

 

mom in La Salle

 

 

Here’s the photo of Mom that Dad carried in his wallet when  he was courting her in La Salle, Manitoba.

 

 

 

 

Mom_0003

 

 

Here she is as a young woman.

 

 

 

 

And here is a picture of Mom and Dad on their 35th wedding anniversary. Mom and Dad had eloped in 1933, so this celebration was especially meaningful to Mom.

Mom_0001

For Mom’s 85th birthday we did have a big family party. There was food and wine and hugs and laughter.  Many loving stories were told about Mom.

Mom's 85th

I never stop missing her, but in some ways she is always with me.

Joseph Noel Taillefer, part 3

Here is my last post about Joseph Noel Taillefer.  Having established that he arrived in Red River in October of 1872 as a member of the third contingent of the Red River Expeditionary Force,  I went looking for newspaper articles about his time here.

On the Manitobia website I found several articles that mention him, mostly in the French language newspaper Le Metis.

He appears to have been well regarded in the French community.  Bishop Tache performed the marriage ceremony on February 3, 1873 on the occasion of Joseph’s marriage to Mary Jane McDermot, daughter of Andrew McDermot, a wealthy and notable merchant in the city.  Didn’t take him long to find a soulmate, did it?

Zouavania says that Andrew McDermot disinherited his daughter for becoming a Catholic.  McDermot was an Irish Catholic who broke with the Church in later life. However, I have read his will at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, and he did leave both money and land to his daughter Jane.The will was written February 19, 1873 after Jane had married.  Hmm… her married name is not used in the will, unlike her other married sisters.

Joseph and Jane had four children, all born in Manitoba:

Mary Jane who married Gabriel Belanger

Joseph who married Virginie Poitras

Alfred who died in 1890 at the age of 14

Henriette who married Francois Xavier Poitras

In December 1878, Joseph won the provincial election for St. Agathe by acclamation.  Sounds wonderful, except that result led to gunshots and a controversy!  Seems the returning officer declined the nominations for two people running against Joseph, for rather technical reasons.  Supporters of the opponents tracked down the returning officer the next day, a scuffle ensued, and shots were fired.  Joseph was shot in the thigh, and one of the supporters shot also.

St. Agathe election

Manitoba Free Press, December 13, 1878

By January 25, 1879 the Manitoba Gazette was reporting that new nominations were accepted for Taillefer, Mr. Kyne, Mr. John Grant and a Dr. Bedford.  Bedford withdrew before the election on January 29th, and Taillefer won. (I haven’t been able to determine whether this Grant was the John Francis Grant I wrote about here).

In the December 16, 1879 election, Taillefer again won election, this time for the Morris riding. He did not run in the 1883 election.  In 1884  he is listed as the Police Magistrate for Provencher.

Winnipeg Directory 1884

Winnipeg Directory 1884 page 354

Sometime before the 1891 census the family moved to the area of Broadview  in the Assiniboia area of the Northwest Territories (present day Saskatchewan).

The book Holiday rambles between Winnipeg and Victoria by George Bryce, published in 1888, locates Taillefer in the Qu’Appelle Valley:

“At one point of this part of the Qu’appelle is a settlement of French people, two of the settlers, Taillefer and De Cazes, being well-known in Winnipeg as having been in years gone by officers in the Provisional Battalion.”

When Andrew McDermot died in 1881, his daughter Jane was mentioned as Mrs. Taillefer  in the obituary in the Manitoba Free Press. She is also mentioned in the obituary of her sister Annie McDermot Bannatyne in May 1908.

However I believe I know where the story of a disinheritance comes from.

Joseph Taillefer died May 31, 1897.  Here’s his burial record from St Coeur de Marie, Marieval, Saskatchewan that I accessed on FamilySearch.

Taillefer Joseph b1828 burial

Burial record for Joseph Taillefer 3 Jun 1897, St Coeur de Marie, Marieval, Saskatchewan, Canada

On FamilySearch I also found his probate record, which for some reason was not filed until 1906.  It includes a copy of his will dated July 16, 1896, in which he provides for his wife and two of his children (one having already died).  Then he says this:

“My dear children, although your sister Mary Jane is excluded from this will, do not conclude I have cast her from my heart, in acting thus towards her, it has been her lot, freely taken.  Before God I forgave her the way she left me and her home, and I enjoin you in case she would knock at your door to receive her as your sister, and in case she would be left alone, to give her shelter and divide your bread with her.  Moreover you will give her a milking cow valued about twenty dollars.”

Why would Joseph have disinherited his daughter?  Mary Jane Taillefer had married Gabriel Belanger January 30, 1893 at St. Coeur de Marie.  Bishop Tache himself had given a dispensation for the reading of banns, and no impediments to the marriage had been found.

Mary Jane’s brother Joseph was godfather for her first child Marie Josephine.  Was it only her father from whom she was estranged?

Not to fear, family relations must have been restored after Joseph Senior’s death, as Mary Jane’s sister Henriette was godmother for Mary Jane’s son Albert in 1903.

Mary Jane’s brother Alfred who had died in 1890 had property in his own name.  A probate was conducted in 1910 and Mary Jane Taillefer Belanger was included in that arrangement.

I have been able to track Mary Jane and her husband Gabriel Belanger in the 1901, 1906, and 1911 census records.  They are enumerated on the Crooked Lake Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan.  Could this have been a factor in the disinheritance?  I can’t find them in the 1916 census, except for a Gabriel Belanger who is a prisoner.  But that may not be the same man. I’d love to know what happened to them and their children, but that’s a research project for another day.

As for Joseph Noel Taillefer’s widow, Jane McDermot, the last documentation I have  found for her is in the 1921 census, when she is living in St. Boniface, Manitoba with her son Joseph and family. Some public trees have her death listed as 1927, but I have not been able, so far, to verify that date.

So there you have the story of Joseph Noel Taillefer, born in Quebec, died in the Northwest Territories. A lawyer, a Papal Zouave, a soldier, a politician, a farmer…and an extremely interesting person to research.