Welcome to the Duval family history page! This site is devoted to Charles and Sarah
(St. Aubin) Duval, who came to Wisconsin from Canada in 1873, and to their eight
children, thirty-nine grandchildren, and hundreds of great grandchildren across the
United States and Canada. If you are a member of the clan, you can take pride in
your rich French-Canadian ancestry, spanning nearly three centuries from the very
beginning of French settlement in North America. And you can read stories and see
photos of your family, adding your own if you like.
Highlights . . .
- Our first Duval ancestor to come to Canada, Charles’s great-great-great grandfather,
was a baker who arrived in Montréal shortly after 1700. He came from the town of
Tonnerre, in Burgundy, about 120 miles southeast of Paris. The family name did not
finally become Duval until emigration to the United States in 1873. Before then,
it was Thuot (pronounced TYOO-et).
- Our first St. Aubin ancestor to come to Canada, Sarah’s great-great-great-great grandfather,
arrived in Montréal as a teenager in about 1665 and was initially employed as a servant
by the king’s attorney there. He came from Dieppe, in Normandy, on the north coast
- For the next two centuries, the Duval and St. Aubin families lived in Montréal and
in the small farming communities to the south of the city.
- There are 745 documented ancestors in our family tree, and all but four were French.
The exceptions were one Spaniard, one Swiss, one Dutchman, and one African. There
were no Native American (Indian) ancestors at all. In the entire family tree, extending
more than 400 years, there were only two out-of-wedlock births.
- Of our 745 ancestors, 185 were immigrants to Canada. They were especially prominent
among the founding families of Montréal, and they were nearly all peasants and laborers,
although some acquired artisanal skills. There were no noble lineages, merchants,
or significant government officials among them.
- Our most famous ancestors were Louis Hébert and his wife Marie Rollet, considered
to be the first French family to settle in Canada, in 1617.
- We’re related to Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Celine Dion, Alec Baldwin, Jim Carrey,
Hillary Clinton, and to virtually everyone else who has French-Canadian ancestors
in his family tree. We’re also related to Saint André of Canada, canonized by the
pope in 2010.
If you’d like to know more, read on . . .
OUR HISTORY IN CANADA
FRANCE AND THE FOUNDING OF CANADA
European settlement of North America began in earnest four centuries ago. The Puritans
established themselves in New England, the Dutch founded New Netherland on the Hudson
River, English cavaliers laid out tobacco plantations in Virginia, the Quakers began
the colony that would become Pennsylvania, and the French sent settlers to Québec
and Montréal on the St. Lawrence River.
American schoolchildren are familiar with the narratives of the early settlements
that became the United States. Many of the colonists sought to practice their religious
beliefs without interference, especially the Puritans and the Quakers. Many of them
sought economic opportunity as they fled their crowded homelands and claimed the
abundant farmland of the New World. They developed agriculture and industry that
both served their own needs and yielded exports to Europe and the Caribbean. And
they steadily pushed the Indian peoples westward, often in bloody conflict, as they
expanded the frontier.
The narrative of the French in Canada is quite different. No one came in search of
religious freedom, because only Catholics were allowed to settle. Few came for economic
opportunity, because the French government strictly controlled land holding and insisted
that the colonists trade only with France and not engage in manufacturing. From the
start agriculture was difficult because of the short growing season and harsh winters.
The trade in fur, of beavers and other forest animals, was lucrative but was limited
to a small class of merchants. And while periods of conflict with the Indians occurred,
cooperation with them was the norm, given the small numbers of French settlers in
Canada and the importance of the Indians in the fur trade.
The French were drawn to the New World by codfish and beaver pelts, but if this had
been the whole story, they would never have founded settlements in Canada, because
neither commodity required a permanent presence on land. The fishing boats came seasonally
and then returned to France with their catches, and the fur traders preferred to
visit the coastline briefly to trade European goods for animal skins trapped by the
Indians. But the kings of France had larger objectives: they planned to confront
and restrict the British as they attempted to dominate North America, and they also
hoped that the St. Lawrence River would ultimately lead to the fabled Northwest Passage
-- a direct sea route to the riches of Asia. Because of these larger goals they were
receptive to proposals to establish colonies, and they were also persuaded by the
pleas of pious churchmen to found missions to convert the Indians to Catholicism.
THE SETTLEMENT OF NEW FRANCE
To achieve their objectives, the French monarchs engaged a series of investors and
adventurers, some organized in joint-stock companies, to exploit and settle the New
World. Verrazano and Cartier were among the prominent explorers of the 1500s, but
it was not until the arrival of Samuel de Champlain early in the 1600s that a serious
effort was made to establish permanent settlements. On the west coast of Acadia --
today Nova Scotia -- Champlain established a settlement in 1605 and spent the winter
there; in 1606 he was joined by our most notable ancestor, Louis Hébert. In 1608,
Champlain founded the first settlement on the St. Lawrence, at the site of Québec
City. In 1617, he established the first French settler family there: our ancestor,
Louis Hébert, this time accompanied by his wife, Marie Rollet, and their three children.
The settler population grew very slowly, however. The king required that merchants
bring settlers to Canada on each voyage, and he granted large estates there to noblemen
on the condition that they send peasants to cultivate the land. But it was not easy
to attract settlers to the distant colony, and the merchants and noblemen largely
evaded their commitments. So unattractive was the prospect of emigration that laborers
were given contracts that guaranteed them not only a competitive wage for a specified
period of time but also return passage to France. During the 1600s, nearly three-quarters
of them chose to go back to France at the end of their service -- in contrast to
the British colonies, where almost no one returned to Europe.
By the late 1630s, there were barely 500 Frenchmen living in all of New France, mostly
single men, although a few married couples had been convinced to settle. Among them
were a dozen of our ancestors, farming land in and around Québec City. Then, in 1640,
a group of pious French noblemen and noblewomen received permission to found a new
settlement farther up the St. Lawrence River, on an island that was the site of periodic
markets where Indians traded furs for French manufactured goods. Their intentions
were entirely spiritual, in line with the intense Catholic Counter-Reformation then
gripping Europe: they wished to missionize and convert the Indians and spread Catholicism
in the New World. Among the fifty men and women who arrived to establish the new
settlement in 1642 was our ancestor Augustin Hébert, whose name can be seen on the
monument to their achievement that stands today near the site of their first settlement.
They named the place Ville-Marie, in honor of the Virgin Mary, but they also called
Despite the ambitious plans of the founders of Montréal and the fact that, astonishingly,
all of the settlers survived their first winter there, the new settlement initially
failed to prosper. The Iroquois, who were then engaged in a series of wars with neighboring
tribes to control trade on the St. Lawrence, killed many of the French settlers,
and the founders were no more successful than previous recruiters in convincing young
Frenchmen to come to this new and dangerous land. By 1652 the French population of
Montréal was still just fifty, and the founders were on the verge of abandoning the
project completely, but they decided to make one more effort to entice young men
to join the settlement. The result was the celebrated “Great Recruitment,” which
brought more than 100 men, as well as several women, to Montréal in 1653 and saved
the project from extinction.
This early period in the history of Montréal is particularly important for our family
tree, since the largest single concentration of our immigrant ancestors were participants.
When the ship bearing the Great Recruitment arrived in 1653, eight of our ancestors
were among the fifty surviving settlers in Montréal who greeted it. Of the 57 members
of the Great Recruitment who ultimately established households and families in Montréal,
fifteen were our ancestors. By 1663, the population of the settlement had grown to
596; of this number, 49 were our ancestors. (Even today, after Montréal has become
a major world center, Duval descendants who visit will pass many cousins on the street,
especially in French-speaking neighborhoods.)
While the survival of Montréal was encouraging, the king of France was profoundly
disappointed with the rate of growth of his North American colony. The total population
of French settlers on the St. Lawrence in 1663 was just 3,035, while the population
of the British colonies to the south had already reached nearly 100,000. In that
year he took the important step of assuming direct royal control of the entire colony,
limiting the role of merchants to their trading activities.
Under the direction of the king, the following ten years saw a significant increase
in the population of New France. While individuals and couples were still occasionally
recruited by the noble landlords, the king took the lead by dispatching a regiment
of 1,200 young soldiers -- the Carignan-Salières Regiment -- to defend the colony
against Iroquois attack. The explicit understanding was that many of these soldiers
would accept the king’s inducements to remain in New France and settle there, and
446 of them did so; of these, nine were our ancestors. The king also initiated a
remarkable program that recruited young women of respectable background to emigrate
to the colony and, under the supervision of local convents, choose husbands from
among the abundance of young men anxious to establish households. Between 1663 and
1673, 770 of these Filles du Roi (King’s Daughters) came to New France and married
there; 27 of them were our ancestors.
Then, in 1673, the king’s attention was once again drawn to Europe and to his conflicts
with the other major powers. Canada and its settlements declined in importance and
no longer received his direct support in colonization. Although small numbers of
immigrants continued to arrive, and another period of settlement occurred in the
mid-1700s, as military units were sent to defend against British invasion from the
south, most of the founding population was in place by about 1680.
During the entire period of colonization, from 1617 to 1760, around 22,000 French
men and women voyaged to the St. Lawrence Valley. The vast majority of these -- over
20,000 -- were men. Nearly all of the men came under some form of contract, either
as indentured laborers or as enlisted soldiers, and over three-quarters of them elected
to return to France after several years in the colony. Those men who remained and
established families, nearly 5,000 in number, became the foundation of the French-Canadian
The number of women who came to New France was much smaller, well under 2,000, and
almost none was indentured. Instead, they were recruited and financed by several
public and private programs intended to provide potential wives to the male settlers.
Since they had not been guaranteed return passage to France, and since they had nothing
to return to there in any case, nearly all of them -- around 1,500 -- settled in
the colony and established families. Half of these were unmarried Filles du Roi,
recruited by the king’s agents between 1663 and 1673, and most of the rest had come
during the period before 1663 as wives or as individual immigrants. Unlike the men,
whose immigration continued throughout the entire period of colonization, almost
all of the women immigrants were settled by 1673.
From these humble beginnings -- no more than 6,500 settlers -- came the French-speaking
population of Canada, today around seven million people, as well as millions of their
cousins in the United States. French immigration to Quebec came to an end in 1759,
when, on the Plains of Abraham outside the walls of Québec City, a British force
defeated the French defenders and brought to a close the role of France in Canada.
WHO WERE OUR IMMIGRANT ANCESTORS ?
In general the 185 immigrants to New France who are the foundation of the Duval family
tree were representative of the early settler population as a whole. Three-quarters
of them arrived in the New World between 1650 and 1680, and virtually all of them
were in place by 1700. Nearly half arrived as unmarried young men, and only one-quarter
came as part of a married family. The men were nearly all laborers or artisans.
Their regional origins in France were typical of the general population of New France,
in that almost all came from the west and northwest of France, areas that had long
been involved with Atlantic commerce. Over half came from just three regions: Normandy,
the areas around the western port of La Rochelle, and Paris. Most of the rest originated
in nearby Brittany, Poitou, and Maine.
Most of the male immigrants had been trained in a craft, such as carpentry, masonry,
or shoemaking. In fact, it was the mobility and relative freedom that they had attained
in France as part of their training in a non-agricultural skill that had made them
receptive to recruitment for the long voyage to the New World. Ironically, these
skills could not generally be put to profitable use in New France because of the
small and dispersed population, so they soon reverted to the farming life that they
had earlier abandoned. After a period of indentured service in which they usually
cleared dense forests and assisted in planting and cultivating crops, they acquired
farmland of their own, built a house and barn, married, and started a family. (An
important exception to this pattern in our family tree is Charles Duval’s great-great-great-grandfather,
Pierre Edmé Thuot dit Duval, who came to Montreal as a baker shortly after 1700 and
made his living as a master of that trade. His descendants, however, became peasant
Although our immigrant ancestors were fairly typical of the Québec population, they
were exceptional in several ways. The most important of these was their relative
concentration in the Montréal area, which resulted from their significant involvement
in the early recruitment efforts there. By 1730, virtually all of our ancestral lines
were living in and around Montréal, either having settled there originally or having
migrated there from Québec City or other settlements on the St. Lawrence. Also important
was the absence of any immigrants later than 1710, even though at least one-quarter
of French settlers arrived after that year, primarily as soldiers. There were also
no families who had earlier settled in Acadia (Nova Scotia) and then moved to Québec
when they were expelled by the British in 1755.
In general, our French Canadian ancestors did not come to the New World because of
poverty or religious persecution in Europe. Many were recruited by local noblemen,
the clergy, the army, or agents of the king. Some came in genuine support of the
religious mission of the Jesuits and other Catholic orders. Many came because it
offered a good job: of limited duration, well-paying, with passage home if they wished.
And at least a few came for the adventure. When they stayed, it was with full knowledge
of the life they were choosing.
THE LIVES OF OUR ANCESTORS IN CANADA
The society established by France in Québec in the 17th century was essentially feudal
-- an institutional replica of the French homeland. The king, served and supported
by a small and privileged nobility, ruled as absolutely as possible. A pervasive
clergy of Catholic priests and nuns, also thoroughly supportive of the king, directed
the spirtual life of the nation. A relatively small middle class of merchants and
tradesman, some fairly wealthy, maintained and financed the flow of goods and services
that could not be locally produced. And the vast bulk of the population -- well over
eighty percent -- tilled the soil as peasants and laborers.
In French Canada, the king was embodied by the governor, established in comfortable
surroundings in Québec City, and by the intendent, who was the king’s administrative
representative. From the beginning of settlement, large tracts of land were granted
as fiefs (in exchange for fealty and hommage, as in the Middle Ages) to noblemen
and religious orders, called seigneurs, who were then expected to recruit peasants
and laborers to emigrate from France and settle on the land in order to make the
colony self-sufficient. The entire colony was also divided into Catholic parishes,
each headed by a resident priest (curé) under the direction of the bishop in Québec
City, who also oversaw the charitable and educational work of several religious orders.
The landscape was dominated by the St. Lawrence and by the rivers that flowed into
it. Unlike the familiar checkerboard pattern of farms or scattered villages in the
British colonies to the south, virtually all farms in New France were long and narrow,
with the narrow end fronting on a river and with the family home and barn just a
few steps from the shore, occasionally interspersed with the parish church or the
larger home of the seigneur. In effect, the entire population was arrayed along the
rivers. While not efficient for purposes of defense, this arrangement permitted relatively
easy transportation throughout the year, by canoe or boat during the summer and by
sleigh during the long winter -- an important necessity, given the general sparseness
and poor condition of roads. As in France, farms were expected to be self-sufficient,
producing nearly all of their needs. The urban population was quite small, consisting
primarily of merchants and of government and church officials, who were concentrated
in three towns: Québec, Trois Rivières, and Montréal. Until the mid 1700s there was
virtually no manufacturing of any kind, and there were no printing presses.
Apart from farming, by far the most important economic activity was fur trading,
mainly of beaver pelts, which were in great demand in Europe for the manufacture
of felt for hatmaking. The proceeds of the fur trade supported a small but prosperous
group of French Canadian merchants and provided enough in taxes and duties to finance
the colonial government in most periods. But most important for our ancestors, it
provided employment for large numbers of young men, who contracted with the merchants
of Montréal to travel by canoe to the Great Lakes and beyond to trade imported manufactured
goods to the Indians for beaver pelts. These year-long voyages offered the opportunity
for adventure and income, and they taught young men skills in marksmanship and survival.
They also exposed them to the folkways of the Indians, which they often found more
congenial than the constraining aspects of their own culture. After several of these
voyages, a man in his twenties, having seen a good part of the continent and enjoyed
an abundance of experiences, could afford to obtain a small farm, marry, and settle
In addition to the fur trade, there were other elements that made life for common
people in early New France different from, and in many cases better than, life in
Europe. Farmland was much more abundant and could be obtained at a reasonable price,
and the French system of land tenure limited speculation. While fees, rents, tithes,
and labor were due to the seigneur and to the pastor, these were generally not onerous,
and there was no annual head tax -- the taille, so hated by peasants in France. The
typical plot of land available to a Québec peasant, normally about eighty acres,
could support a family in good years and even produce a small surplus, and in years
of bad harvests the diet could be supplemented by hunting and fishing, which were
far less accessible to common people in France.
Yet there were also hardships that gave pause to those who might have emigrated and
thus limited the population of the colony. The ocean voyage was difficult and dangerous,
even during peacetime, with significant numbers of passengers succumbing to disease
en route. The Canadian winters were famously harsh and endless. For long periods
during the early years, especially 1643 to 1667 and 1687 to 1701, colonists were
vulnerable to attack by Iroquois warriors, who were notoriously cruel to their victims,
as described in detail by the written narratives of Jesuit missionaries. (Five of
our ancestors were killed by Iroquois raids during this period.) For these and other
reasons, the population of New France always remained small: usually around five
percent of that of the British colonies of North America.
For the men of New France, armed conflict was very much a part of their lives. Throughout
much of the 17th century, they cultivated their fields in groups armed with muskets,
with several men standing guard as the others worked the crops. They had learned
that Iroquois raiders often lay in concealment for days on end, awaiting the opportunity
to seize an unwary colonist. Even during times of peace with the Indians, all men
were required to have firearms and to drill regularly as members of the permanent
militia. The relative lack of regular army troops in New France meant that it was
the peasants who were called out to participate in raids on the British and Dutch
settlements to the south and to defend against counterattacks. As militia members,
they fought beside the Indian allies of the French and learned their tactics of stealth
and ambush. In 1764, General James Murray, the first British governor of Québec,
reported that, “The Canadians are to a man soldiers.” While we lack details of specific
enlistments, we can be certain that many of our ancestors participated as combatants
in all of the major conflicts, including the French and Indian War (1754-1760) and
the War of 1812.
On balance, however, for those who came and settled in New France, life was relatively
prosperous and comfortable compared to that of their countrymen in Europe. Their
nutritional intake was higher, and they tended to be healthier and longer-lived.
They often experienced a greater sense of freedom, because the royal government weighed
less heavily upon them. The main authorities they saw regularly were the local militia
captain, who had been selected from among their number; the parish priest, whom they
usually respected and supported with tithes but dealt with familiarly; and the seigneur,
who was little trouble to them if they paid their rents and fees and kept their farms
in good condition.
With few exceptions our ancestors were peasants who farmed lands that had been granted
to them on the estates of noble and church landlords. They were subsistence farmers
who produced for their own consumption and for sale to nearby towns, but they did
not seek to expand their farms or to produce a significant surplus, because French
mercantilist policy closed most external markets to them. With a relatively secure
home base, they married young and had many children, often more than ten or twelve
in each generation. The children received little education -- normally not much more
than recitation of the Catechism for the parish priest -- but they acquired valuable
life skills with their French and Indian playmates in the surrounding countryside.
In 1690 the French governor summarized his impressions: “The Canadians are all big,
well-built, and firmly planted on their legs, accustomed when necessary to living
on little, robust and vigorous, very self-willed and inclined to dissoluteness. But
they are witty and vivacious.”
In fact, the benefits of life for the peasantry of New France over time tended to
make them remarkably conservative and resistant to change. Life was good and could
be maintained with a reasonable amount of work, and the typical peasant could provide
for his large family and see his children successfully married and settled on their
own farms. While agrarian reformers favored the abolition of feudalism, which had
in fact consigned much of European peasantry to poverty, French Canadian farmers
saw it as the reliable basis for their security. Crime and social disorder were relatively
rare and, in fact, substantially less common than in Puritan New England.
The British conquest of New France, in 1759-60, initially changed very little for
the French-speaking population, which at that time numbered about 70,000. The new
British administrators, seeking to avoid civil unrest and finding natural allies
among the conservative French Canadian seigneurs and priests, soon granted nearly
full rights to the Catholic population and confirmed the continuation of most aspects
of French law, administration, and land tenure. In the process, unfortunately, they
misunderstood the traditional role and status of the seigneurs and conferred on them
a greater degree of authority over peasant society than they had ever previously
had. Inevitably, the seigneurs overplayed their hand, provoking peasant resistance
and culminating in a violent rebellion in 1837-38. Far from being revolutionary,
however, the peasantry continued to be deeply traditional and conservative, led by
their parish priests, some of whom were refugees from the French Revolution.
The first fifty years of British rule brought unexpected economic benefits to the
French-speaking population. The international market for grain, which had in effect
been closed to Québec agriculture, resulting in limited demand and production, was
now opened, and within a few years of the conquest, grain production increased tenfold,
with consequent benefits for the farming population. British merchants established
their trading operations, especially in Montréal, and, although this provided unwelcome
competition to French merchants, it increased investment and opened a new array of
imported goods at reasonable prices to the peasantry.
It was not until the 1820s that population growth, due both to natural increase and
to immigration from Britain and Ireland, began to put pressure on land and resources.
It grew increasingly difficult for young men to find suitably sized plots of land
that they could afford, and a population of landless laborers began to rise, with
very little outlet or opportunity in Québec. During this period, our ancestors, who
had been born into families of farm owners, grew up instead to lives of day-labor
and share-cropping, with long periods of insecurity, especially during the jobless
winters. By the 1830s, thousands of French-Canadians were emigrating annually to
the United States, particularly to the growing factory towns of New England and to
the farmlands of the Midwest. This was the economic situation that faced Charles
and Sarah Duval throughout their early lives, and it was what led them to depart
for Wisconsin in 1873.
STORIES OF OUR ANCESTORS
LOUIS HÉBERT AND MARIE ROLLET
Louis Hébert, who is well-known to every Canadian schoolchild, was our most prominent
ancestor. He and his wife, Marie Rollet, are considered to have been the “first French
settlers” in Canada -- more precisely, the first family who settled permanently and
supported themselves at least partly from agriculture. Louis was born in about 1575
in St-Germain-l'Auxerrois, Paris, son of a prominent apothecary and spice merchant
with a practice near the royal palace (Louvre). He trained with his father as an
apothecary, married Marie Rollet in about 1602, and was well on his way to the life
of a prosperous Parisian bourgeois. But soon his attention was attracted by a larger
Louis’ interest and involvement in the New World was inspired by Jean de Biencourt
de Poutrincourt, who had married Louis’ first cousin in 1590. Poutrincourt was the
scion of a distinguished and wealthy noble family of northern France who had decided
to expand his domain by establishing himself in the Americas. He toured the coasts
of Acadia (modern Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) during the summer of 1604, and in
February of 1606 he requested and was granted a fiefdom in Acadia by King Henri IV
on the condition that he establish a colony there. Poutrincourt proceeded immediately
to his task and in May of that year departed France on a well-provisioned ship carrying
Poutrincourt’s companions, all young men, were no ordinary group of people. His vision
of his Acadian fiefdom was inspired by the world that he had known in France: a tightly-knit
nucleus of upper-class gentlemen served by a lower class of artisans and peasants.
Consequently, while he included a typical complement of indentured carpenters, masons,
and laborers on the voyage, one-third of the colonists were from the nobility or
the upper gentry, many of them relatives of his and all of them good friends, including
his cousin Louis Hébert. Louis evidently welcomed this opportunity and challenge,
although it meant leaving his wife and two small daughters in France.
Thus our ancestor set foot in the New World on July 27, 1606, when Poutrincourt’s
ship arrived at Port-Royal in Acadia (near modern Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia).
There he met the company of thirty survivors of the previous winter, led by the legendary
explorer Samuel de Champlain, who was to be so important to Louis Hébert’s future.
All hands immediately set about constructing housing for the newcomers and storing
provisions for the coming winter. Louis, who had an abiding interest in horticulture,
began experiments with grain and grapes and supervised the construction of a gristmill.
He also served as the settlement’s physician, treating both Frenchmen and local Indians.
During the fall of 1606, Poutrincourt and Champlain, accompanied by Louis Hébert
and a small crew of sailors, explored the western shore of the Bay of Fundy (the
coast of modern New England and New Brunswick) in search of appropriate sites for
expansion of the colony. While they sought friendly relations with the local bands
of Indians, they found that earlier European contacts had rendered them suspicious
and sometimes hostile, especially as they sailed down the coast into the area that
would later become Massachusetts. In early October they had a particularly close
call, when they landed on the coast of Cape Cod, near modern Chatham, and set up
a temporary encampment. During the night, five crew members, who had insisted on
staying on shore despite orders to return to the boat, were attacked by a large group
of Indians. Champlain and Louis Hébert, with others of the company, immediately rowed
ashore and drove off the attackers, but four of the insubordinate sailors were killed.
The explorers then returned to Port-Royal in early November, and something of the
character of this unique group of colonists is revealed by the pageant that greeted
them. Marc Lescarbot, a lawyer and poet who had accompanied the colonists partly
in the hope of enriching his creative palette, composed a musical drama, “La Théâtre
de Neptune,” which was performed by the colonists, afloat in canoes and in full costume,
as the voyagers approached Port-Royal. Later, during the winter, the young gentlemen
formed the Ordre de Bon Temps, the “Society of Good Cheer,” a dining and entertainment
club that required each man in turn to plan and host the evening meal, accompanied
by convivial ceremonies. While they usually invited local Indians to join them, none
of the French workmen of the settlement were included.
The winter of 1606-07 was exceptionally mild, and the settlers were able to hunt
and fish almost daily to supplement the dried and salted provisions that they had
brought with them from France. The availability of fresh food, perhaps enhanced by
grains and roots obtained from local Indians and perhaps also by herbs gathered by
Louis Hébert, prevented the perennial scourge of scurvy, and only four deaths occurred
-- none at all among the gentlemen.
Despite the evident success of this year of settlement in Port-Royal, a combination
of lack of capital and court intrigue led to the withdrawal of Poutrincourt’s commission,
and the entire company returned to France in 1607. Yet Poutrincourt was not easily
discouraged, and by 1610 he had again obtained authority to bring settlers to Acadia.
Once again he assembled a group consisting of both gentlemen and laborers, and once
again he was able to convince Louis Hébert to be among them. In fact, it is likely
that not much convincing was required. Available evidence suggests that Louis found
the life of a staid Paris apothecary far less attractive than the open spaces of
the New World, where he could devote his time to his real passion, horticulture and
experimentation with plants. He also evidently enjoyed living among the Indians,
whom he found to be intelligent and agreeably open and generous, as did many of his
countrymen who came to the New World.
Arriving in Nova Scotia in the spring of 1610, the men began to rebuild the settlement
in Port-Royal, repairing the buildings that they had abandoned in 1607 and replanting
the fields. But support in France for the project remained inconsistent, and growth
was restrained. In particular, it proved impossible to bring families to the site
to develop a real colony. Then in November 1613 everything came to an abrupt end,
when a Welsh privateer in the service of the British colony in Virginia attacked,
looted, and burned the entire settlement. The settlers were obliged to struggle through
the winter with the help of the Indians, and then all returned to France the following
While we have no evidence regarding Louis’ family during his extended absences in
the New World, it seems very likely that they became part of a network of the wives
and families of the men who had accompanied Poutrincourt to Acadia, including Poutrincourt’s
wife, Claude Pajot, who was Louis Hebert’s first cousin. Historians are not in agreement
as to whether Louis was in unbroken residence in Acadia between 1610 and 1614, but
he was there during most of the period, returning to France briefly if at all. Thus,
he had been away from France for five of the first twelve years of his marriage (1606-07
and 1610-14), and we can assume that the separation was difficult. Fortunately the
family was prosperous enough to live in relative comfort during these periods.
Back in Paris in 1614 and once again established as an apothecary, Louis evidently
grew restless. Although he continued to serve as solicitor for Poutrincourt’s son,
he regretted being out of personal touch with the New World. When Samuel de Champlain,
in Paris in 1617 to conduct business for the settlement that he had established at
the future site of Québec City, proposed to him that he and his family move there,
Louis evidently leapt at the opportunity. (We do not know his wife’s reaction.) Champlain
approached the company of French merchants who then held a trading monopoly on the
St. Lawrence, negotiating an agreement with them that the Hébert family would settle
in Québec, with Louis to serve as their salaried employee and apothecary, with a
small plot of land for farming. Louis soon arranged for the sale of his Paris property
and proceeded with his family to the port of Honfleur in preparation for the voyage.
While there, he learned to his astonishment that the merchant company had reneged
on many of its commitments to him and reduced his promised salary by half. The merchants
were, in fact, opposed to permanent colonists, who might seek to undercut their control
of the fur trade and who might disrupt their crucial bartering relations with the
Indians. However, since Louis had irrevocably sold his assets in France, he decided
to proceed with the venture.
Louis, Marie, their three children, and their manservant arrived in Québec in July
1617. The settlement had been in existence for nine years and still consisted of
a just few dozen men, most of them transient and involved in the fur trade, with
no women or children at all. The Héberts erected a temporary dwelling near the official
residence (habitation) that Champlain had built in the lower part of the town near
the river, and within a few months they completed a stone house on the high bluff
above the habitation, not far from the location of the majestic Château Frontenac
today. They planted crops and a garden nearby, and Champlain was able to report the
following year that, “I visited the cultivated land, which I found planted and filled
with fine grain, the gardens full of all kinds of vegetables, such as cabbage, turnips,
lettuce, rhubarb, sorrel, parsley, and other plants, as well developed as in France.
In short, everything was manifestly prospering.”
This was a substantial achievement, given that the merchant company had refused to
allow the Héberts to have a plow. This impediment, plus the demands on Louis’ time
for company business and for providing medical care to the settlement and the local
Indians, limited the development of his farm. Although he was granted a small fief
in 1623 (today the site of the basilica and the seminary in Québec City), which was
ennobled and expanded in 1626, by the 1630s the Hébert family still had only six
acres under crops. More important, however, Louis and Marie provided a vital center
for the community. Their home was for years the finest private structure in the town,
and residents gathered there regularly. In 1621 Louis was appointed king’s attorney,
which made him responsible for conveying all laws, regulations, and public documents.
He was always generous with his time, and Marie gave instruction in their home to
the local children, both French and Indian. Still, it was a challenging and lonely
existence; during the ten years following their arrival, just three more French families
joined them in Québec.
In the winter of 1626, Louis was badly injured in a fall on the ice and never recovered.
He died on January 25, 1627. He left behind his widow, who remarried sixteen months
later, and his two surviving children: daughter Guillemette, who had married Guillaume
Couillard in 1621 and was to have ten children; and son Guillaume, who married Hélène
Desportes in 1634 and had three children before his untimely death in 1639 at the
age of 31. It is from the latter Guillaume’s daughter Françoise, born in 1638, that
In 1678, Louis’ remains were transferred with honor to the newly erected Recollet
chapel and were among the first to rest there. Today there is an impressive monument
to him and his family in Montmorency Park, beside the basilica in Québec City and
near the location of his first farm. There is also a plaque on the façade of his
birthplace in Paris, the shop/residence called the Mortier d’Or (Golden Mortar),
at 129 rue Saint-Honoré, near the Louvre. But the most enduring memorials to Louis
and Marie are the tens of thousands of their descendants living today in Canada and
the United States.
Our most colorful and controversial ancestor by far was Nicolas Marsolet: early companion
of Champlain, one of the first Frenchmen to live year round in the St. Lawrence Valley,
master of Indian languages, fur trader, merchant, and, ultimately, prosperous landowner
and distinguished resident. His life illustrates some of the most dramatic episodes
in the early history of Québec.
Samuel de Champlain, who is generally considered to be the founder of New France,
adopted a strategy of allying and cooperating with the Indian peoples of Canada rather
than attacking and subduing them. This was entirely a matter of necessity, since
it was clear to him that the French kings, who were deeply absorbed in the politics
of Europe, would never devote sufficient resources to the New World to support a
large French population and a conquering army. From the outset, therefore, Champlain
sent young men to live among the various Indian groups as truchements, which means
translator but much more as well: in the words of historian D.H. Fischer, these men
“were instructed to explore the country, live among the Indian nations, master native
languages, promote trade, build alliances, observe carefully, and report on what
they saw.” They were not typical agents of the French, however. In fact, they were
often traded to the Indians in a form of hostage exchange meant to ensure peace.
They were to live with the Indians, share their way of life, and support themselves
in the same way as their hosts. When Champlain and other French representatives wished
to communicate and negotiate with the Indians, they expected to be able to call on
these young men to step forward as well-informed and well-connected intermediaries.
Nicolas Marsolet was born in Rouen, Normandy, in 1601 and was just twelve years old
when he was selected to be a truchement. In the spring of 1613 he departed France
aboard Champlain’s sixth voyage to North America. Upon arrival, he was placed with
the Montagnais Indians of the Saguenay Valley, above Tadoussac, a trading settlement
on the St. Lawrence River. Here he was integrated into a selected family and shared
their lives in every aspect, and he evidently enjoyed it, finding their freedom,
expressiveness, adventure, and casual regard for authority to be preferable to his
experiences among his own countrymen. He learned to speak the Indians’ language,
to respect their customs, and to travel by canoe as they did, and he also learned
to support himself in their way, by hunting and fishing and by trading with distant
Indians for beaver pelts to exchange for manufactured goods imported by European
merchants on the St. Lawrence River.
For most of the preceding century, his Montagnais hosts had been at the center of
the fur trade. Their settlement at Tadoussac, relatively near the entrance of the
St. Lawrence, was a convenient port for French and other merchants, and the Montagnais
used this focal point to become prosperous middle-men between the merchants, who
preferred to remain close to their ships on the river, and the Indians of the northwest,
who trapped beavers and other animals for their pelts. The Montagnais vigorously
protected their position by preventing the French from going up the Saguenay River
to make direct contact with their Indian trading partners.
There was an inherent conflict between the interests of the Montagnais and the French
after 1600, the year in which the French first attempted to establish a permanent
trading post at Tadoussac. The French planned to settle colonies in the St. Lawrence
Valley, but they intended them to be self-financing and to be supported, at least
initially, by profits from the fur trade. To this end, the French crown granted a
series of trading monopolies to associations of merchants, on condition that the
latter recruit and finance colonists. The Montagnais, on the other hand, opposed
the monopolies and preferred to do business with all interested European merchants,
which would promote competition to purchase their pelts and ensure that they had
access to their choice of the best European trade goods. As a fur trader who plied
the distant streams in his canoe, just as his Montagnais hosts, Marsolet shared their
dislike for the trading monopolies and undoubtedly resented the French authorities
for having imposed them.
Marsolet, like many of his fellow truchements, eventually fell afoul of French Catholic
missionaries, especially as the latter became more numerous in the area in the 1620s.
The missionaries felt that the young Frenchmen, who tended to live morally casual
lives and ignore the disapproval of the priests, were a negative influence on the
Indians, creating an inappropriate image of French civilization and undercutting
the missionizing efforts of the Church. In about 1626, the Jesuit fathers demanded
that some of the truchements be expelled and returned to France, and Marsolet was
evidently among them, providing another source of resentment toward the French authorities.
By 1629 Marsolet had found his way back to Tadoussac, where he was on the scene when
a fleet of British privateers commissioned by Charles I of England took possession
of the French St. Lawrence settlements under the misapprehension that Britain and
France were at war. Since the British offered a freer environment for trade and were
also willing to sell them liquor in exchange for beaver pelts -- which the French
had refused to do -- the Montagnais, along with Marsolet, welcomed them and gave
Not surprisingly, Champlain accused Marsolet of treason, but he could take no action
against him because he had surrendered New France and was now in British custody.
To compound the offense, Marsolet testified against Champlain’s plan to take two
young Montagnais Indian girls to France with him and was able to convince the British
to deny Champlain his wishes, angering him even more.
The incident of Champlain and the Montagnais girls is worth examining in detail,
since it has received considerable attention from historians and has tended to color
their judgment of both Champlain and Marsolet. In Champlain’s telling, in 1627 he
had adopted the two Indian girls, aged 11 and 12, at the request of their parents.
He had taken them into his home, renamed them Hope and Charity, and cared for them
under the watchful eye of local Catholic priests. When the British declared their
intention to deport him to France in 1629, he requested that the girls accompany
him, which, according to Champlain, they ardently desired to do. Marsolet spoke out
against the plan, suggesting that Champlain’s intentions were less than honorable
and that the girls’ parents were opposed to their going. In reply, Champlain lashed
back at Marsolet, accusing him of lying and of wishing to have the girls for himself.
The British listened to the dispute and ruled against Champlain; the girls stayed
Since historians have tended to describe Champlain as nearly a saint, they have typically
judged that he was unfairly treated in this incident and that Marsolet was a scoundrel
or worse. But it is necessary to dissect Champlain’s self-serving narrative to ascertain
something closer to the truth. To begin with, the Montagnais girls had not been “adopted”
by Champlain at all. According to anthropologist/historian Bruce Trigger, they had
been temporarily placed with him by their parents during a period of food shortage
with the expectation that he would return them when conditions improved, which he
refused to do. Marsolet surely knew that this was the case and explained it to the
It should also be noted that sixteen years earlier Marsolet, then just twelve years
old, had spent two months aboard ship as Champlain’s cabin boy and may consequently
have learned some things about his attitudes and behavior toward children -- things
that the Indian girls had not yet had the opportunity to experience. And all parties
must have been aware of Champlain’s own personal history: marriage at the age of
forty to a girl of twelve who vehemently refused to live with him, and their subsequent
relationship that was childless and may never have been consummated. (She ultimately
marked his death by entering a convent.) Fischer has noted that he was indifferent
to the attractions of adult women.
Finally, the judgment of the British privateers who ruled against Champlain should
be dispositive. They were educated and sophisticated men of Champlain’s class who
shared many of his experiences at sea and at war, and they displayed their personal
affinity for him by treating him as their equal during his captivity, even to the
extent of taking him on hunts with them. Yet they gave credence in this incident
to Marsolet, who to them was little more than a servant. Perhaps most telling is
the fact that Champlain himself never formally charged Marsolet with treason or any
other crime, despite the fact that throughout this period, apart from his brief captivity
by the British, he remained lieutenant general of New France and was fully empowered
to take legal action. It is quite possible that Champlain avoided a formal, public
airing of his charges against Marsolet lest it uncover inconvenient details that
were inconsistent with his carefully cultivated image. While we will never know the
exact circumstances of the affair of Champlain and the two Indian girls, we should
certainly consider the likelihood that Marsolet acted honestly and honorably and
that the final judgment of the British was justified.
Marsolet remained in New France during the British occupation but departed for France
before Champlain returned to Québec, in 1633, undoubtedly to avoid any repercussions
from their earlier unpleasantness. While in France he married Marie LeBarbier, and
in 1637 -- safely after Champlain’s death -- the couple returned to New France. Later
that year Marsolet received his first concession of land, an indication that he had
been fully cleared of any taint of “treason,” and over the next three decades he
acquired several more large tracts. But at heart he remained a trader, and it appears
that he devoted little effort to developing his landholdings. Instead he acquired
a boat, which he used for fur trading in his familiar territory of the Saguenay Valley,
and he continued to oppose monopoly and advocate free trade. He later maintained
a shop in Québec City, which we know of because in 1664 he was accused of overcharging
Marsolet died in 1677, leaving his widow and five surviving offspring of the ten
who had been born to the family. We descend from his daughter Louise, born in 1640.
As fortune would have it, the Marsolet surname would have died out, because there
was no grandson to carry it on. But on the distaff side, several families chose to
use it in place of their own, so the Marsolet surname lived on, in recognition of
a distinguished ancestor.
It is generally agreed that Hélène Desportes was the first child born of French parents
in New France and therefore one of the first children born of European parents anywhere
in North America. Although no baptism record has been found, it is known that she
was born in Québec, that her godmother was Hélène Boullé, wife of Samuel de Champlain,
and that Boullé arrived in Québec on 7 July 1620. Given her reported age in later
records, Hélène Desportes was therefore born sometime between that date and the end
of 1620. It is worth noting that her birth in Québec was within a few months of the
landing of the Mayflower in Massachusetts.
Hélène’s parents were Pierre Desportes and Françoise Langlois, who had come to Québec
from Normandy in about 1619, soon after their marriage. For the next ten years they
were one of only five married couples living in Québec, the other four being Louis
Hébert and Marie Rollet (also our ancestors), Abraham Martin and Marguerite Langlois
(sister of Françoise), Guillaume Couillard and Guillemette Hébert (daughter of Louis
Hébert), and Nicolas Pivert and Marguerite Lesage (the only couple not related to
When British privateers seized New France, in 1629, all of the families except the
Héberts and the Couillards elected to return to France, accompanied by Champlain.
While there, both of Hélène’s parents died, and she evidently came into the care
of her aunt, Marguerite Langlois, wife of Abraham Martin, with whom she returned
to Québec in 1633. In 1634 she married Guillaume Hébert, son of Louis Hébert. They
had three children before Guillaume’s untimely death, in 1639, including daughter
Françoise, born in 1638, from whom we descend. Also descending from Françoise was
her 5th great grandson, Alfred Bessette, born in 1845, who was canonized by the pope
in 2010 as Saint André of Canada. Saint André was a 5th cousin of Charles Duval and
therefore a cousin of all of us as well.
After Guillaume’s death, Hélène married Noel Morin, a wheel maker, with whom she
had twelve children, an experience that undoubtedly helped to qualify her for later
appointment as the town’s midwife. Among her children from this marriage, and therefore
distant cousins of ours, were Germain Morin, the first Canadian-born priest, ordained
in 1665, and Marie Morin, the first Canadian-born nun, vows taken in 1671. Hélène
died in 1675 in Québec.
EARLY FAMILIES OF QUÉBEC
Apart from the five couples mentioned above in the discussion of Hélène Desportes,
settlement in New France languished until the 1630s, when the Company of New France,
which had been granted a trading monopoly by the king, began actively to recruit
individuals and families to settle in the colony. The individuals were engaged by
contract as laborers for several years, after which most of them returned to France.
The families, on the other hand, were typically recruited by relatives or associates
who were already involved in colonization, and they nearly all remained in Québec
and established farms there. Over half of our earliest ancestors were among these
Marin Boucher and Perrine Mallet, settled in Québec by 1634
Nicolas Marsolet and Marie
LeBarbier, settled in Québec by 1637
Louis Sédilot and Marie Grimoult, settled in
Québec in 1637
Nicolas Pelletier and Jeanne de Vouzy, settled in Québec by 1637
Bourgery and Marie Gendre, settled in Trois-Rivières in 1646
Jacques Archambault and
Françoise Tourault, settled in Québec by 1647
Jacques Badeau and Anne Ardouin, settled
in Québec by 1648
PIONEERS OF MONTRÉAL
As noted in the above historical narrative, our ancestors were especially prominent
in the founding of Montréal. The early history of the city is remarkable: establishment
of a religious outpost in 1642 at the very edge of the frontier by a small group
of determined settlers who received only warnings and discouragement from their contemporaries.
In that year 52 men and women, led by the pious nobleman Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve,
then just thirty years old, built a small wooden palisade on a spit of land in the
St. Lawrence, today called Pointe-à-Callière, on Montréal Island. One of our ancestors
was among them: Augustin Hébert.
Augustin Hébert (unrelated to our other Hébert ancestor, Louis) had distinguished
himself by behaving very differently than his peers. He had come from Normandy to
Québec in 1637 as a soldier and stone cutter. But rather than return to France at
the end of his enlistment, as most soldiers did, he elected to remain and to join
the courageous group that set out to establish the settlement on Montréal Island
in 1642. Then he went on to do something even more unusual: he returned to Paris
to marry Adrienne Duvivier, in 1646, and then came back with her to Montréal. It
is difficult to imagine the thought and deliberation that must have led to this action,
given that the small settlement in Montréal had already acquired the reputation as
a killing field for the Iroquois.
One assumes that Augustin had been deeply moved by the religious devotion of the
leaders of the project and was able to convince his bride to share the hardships
and sacrifice. And ultimately he did sacrifice his life, evidently abducted and killed
by the Iroquois in 1653. He left his young widow and three children, including daughter
Jeanne, from whom we descend. He also left them the large plot of land that had been
conceded to him in 1648 by Maisonneuve -- nearly 40 acres, bounded today by Rue St-Pierre
(Rue de Bleury), Rue St-François-Xavier, Rue la Moyne, and Boulevard Maisonneuve
in downtown Montréal. A few paces from his land stands the tall obelisk that commemorates
the founders of Montréal, in Place d’Youville. A plaque on the west face lists the
names of the first pioneers, and Augustin appears among them.
Augustin Hébert was just one of many victims of Iroquois attacks during the early
years of Montréal. Yet determined colonists continued to risk their lives in support
of the community. Several of our ancestors joined the settlement during this period:
Jean Descaries arrived soon after the first group of colonists. By trade he was a
charbonnier -- a charcoal-maker -- but it is unlikely that he made much use of this
skill in the nascent community. Instead, he joined in the general effort to clear
the land of trees so that crops could be planted. In 1650 Maisonneuve granted him
30 acres of land, bounded today by Boulevard René Lévesque, Rue de la Montagne, Rue
Versailles, and Rue William in downtown Montréal. Ten years later he was granted
a choice piece of land in the village, one acre near the market square, now called
Place Royale; the land today is on the north side of Rue St-Paul between Rue St-Pierre
and Rue St-François-Xavier. He later obtained additional property to provide for
his sons, through which runs today Autoroute Décarie, a major Montréal expressway.
In 1654 he married Michele Artus, with whom he had five children. We descend from
their son Paul, born in 1655.
Blaise Juillet, from Avignon, came to Montréal in 1644 as an indentured laborer,
described as a bêcheur (ditch digger). After he had served his contracted term, he
remained in Montréal and was granted, in 1650, a plot of 30 acres of land, located
today along Rue Mansfield between Rue René Lévesque and Rue William in downtown Montréal.
In 1651 he married Anne-Antoinette de Liercourt, with whom he had four children.
We descend from their daughter Marie, born in 1653. Blaise died in 1660 when he drowned
near Île St-Paul while fleeing the Iroquois. Two months after his death, Anne-Antoinette
married our ancestor Hugues Picard.
Jacques Archambault and Françoise Tourault arrived in Québec by 1647, and within
a few years they and their six children joined the settlers in Montréal. In 1651
Maisonneuve granted Jacques 30 acres of land adjacent to son-in-law Urbain Tessier
(see next paragraph), bounded today by Rue Ontario, Boulevard St-Laurent, Rue St-Urbain,
and Rue St-Antoine in downtown Montréal. He was also granted a fine one-half acre
plot in the village, today the site of the Presse building, on the northwest corner
of Rue St-Jacques and Boulevard St-Laurent, near the Place d’Armes. In 1655 Jacques
and several residents invented health insurance, when they agreed to pay master surgeon
Etienne Bouchard five livres each annually to care for the medical needs of their
families. In 1658, Maisonneuve hired Jacques to dig a well close to the palisade
so that the settlers would have access to water during Iroquois raids; today a memorial
stands near the site, in the Place d’Youville. Françoise died in 1663, followed fifteen
years later by Jacques.
Urbain Tessier arrived in New France in the mid-1640s, possibly indentured in his
specialty as a scieur de long (pit sawyer). In 1648 he married Marie Archambault
(daughter of the preceding family) in Québec and then moved to Montréal, where in
1651 he was granted 30 acres of land, located today on the west side of Rue St-Urbain
(which was named after him) between Rue St-Antoine and Boulevard de Maisonneuve in
downtown Montréal. He also received in the same year a prestigious one-half acre
lot in the village, today the site of the historic Banque de Montréal building across
from Notre-Dame Basilica in the Place d’Armes; the lot also covered part of the Place
as well. Urbain survived seventeen months of Iroquois captivity in 1661-62, losing
a finger in their torture rituals. He appeared many times as a godparent and in legal
documents and was clearly a prominent resident of Montréal. He and Marie had sixteen
children between 1649 and 1679; we descend from their son Laurent, born in 1655.
Despite the steady arrival of new colonists as well as a few births to settler families,
the population of Montréal did not grow at all for the first ten years because of
constant losses to the Iroquois. It still consisted of just fifty souls in 1651,
leading Maisonneuve to despair for the future. He returned to France, determined
to recruit at least 100 settlers to augment the colony or, failing that, to abandon
the project entirely. In the event, he was successful in both raising money and attracting
recruits. In July 1653, over 100 men and 15 women departed from Saint-Nazaire for
Montréal, arriving on November 16 of that year. This is the event that is revered
by Québec patriots as the “Great Recruitment” that saved Montréal, and its participants
have been celebrated as heroes. Calmer historians have noted that the sponsors were
so nervous that the recruits, mostly indentured laborers, would try to flee before
departure that they lodged them on an inaccessible island off of the coast of France
while their ship was repaired. Whatever their motives or enthusiasm, nearly half
of the recruits -- a total of 57 -- established families in Montréal and left descendants.
Of these, fifteen were our ancestors, a truly extraordinary number:
The first detailed census of Montréal was taken ten years later, in 1663, by which
time the total French population had grown to 596. Of these, 49 were our ancestors,
and they held substantial portions of land in the nascent city.
DAUGHTERS AND SOLDIERS
Despite the commitment and efforts of Champlain, Maisonneuve, and many other advocates
and pioneers over more than half a century, New France failed to grow and prosper
at the rate of the British and Dutch colonies to the south. In 1663, the total French
population of the St. Lawrence Valley had reached just 3,035. By contrast, New England
had nearly 40,000 European settlers, New Netherland 9,000, Maryland 6,000, and Virginia
35,000. In that year, fresh impetus was given to the colonizing of New France by
the young and vigorous French king, Louis XIV. Having for the moment settled European
matters to his satisfaction, he took renewed interest in his languishing North American
colony. He dismissed the merchant company that had failed to bring it prosperity
and assumed direct responsibility for administration and colonization.
Concerned especially that the small French population continued to be vulnerable
to Iroquois attacks and that this was a major impediment to further settlement, the
king ordered that the Carignan-Salières Regiment, a force of 1,200 officers and troops,
be dispatched to New France. The regiment soon built a chain of forts on the Richelieu
River, which was the main avenue for Iroquois incursions, and conducted expeditions
into Iroquois territory that had the effect of reducing their ability to attack the
colonists for the next two decades. Concerned equally with the need to build the
population rapidly, the king also offered incentives for both officers and enlisted
men of the regiment to remain in New France after their mission there was completed.
In the event, over 400 of them did so, at least half of whom left descendants. Of
this number, nine, all ordinary enlisted men, were our ancestors:
The king was no less concerned that the population of New France was heavily unbalanced
in favor of men and that it would not endure unless women could be made available
to marry and form families. He thus ordered that his agents recruit young women of
respectable parentage and backgrounds, mostly from the area in and around Paris,
many of them orphans who had been raised by religious orders. Between 1663 and 1673,
770 young women, called Filles du Roi (King’s Daughters), were transported to New
France under this program. Upon arrival, they were placed under the strict supervision
of local nuns, who oversaw their introduction to eligible young men, and within a
few months virtually all were successfully married. The King’s Daughters constituted
nearly half of all the women who immigrated to New France and so became the firm
and broad base of the French-Canadian people. Twenty-seven of them were our ancestors:
Marie Barbe Boyer
Marie-Claire de la Hocque
Marie Anne Rabady
There are, of course, millions of descendents of the daughters and soldiers today
in Canada and the United States, including us. Descendants are eligible to join La
Société des Filles du roi et soldats du Carignan, a kind of low-key and easy-going
French-Canadian version of the D.A.R.
ADRIEN ST. AUBIN
Our St. Aubin line began in the New World with the arrival in Montréal in about 1665
of seventeen-year-old Adrien St. Aubin. Adrien was born in St-Rémi Parish in the
port city of Dieppe, in Normandy, and made an early decision to indenture himself
in the service of Charles Lemoyne, king’s attorney in Montréal. The indenture promised
him transport to Montréal, a salary for a specified number of years of service in
his contractor’s household, and then return transport to France. In the event, Adrien
decided to remain in New France. By 1671 he had completed his service and settled
in nearby Boucherville.
In 1680 Adrien married Jeanne-Marguerite Beloy, daughter of a family who had immigrated
to Montréal in the early 1660s. They settled in Boucherville and had five children,
including son Julien, born in 1683, from whom we descend. Adrien died in 1702, and
Jeanne-Marguerite died in 1747.
ANNETJE CHRISTIAANSZ AND MOÏSE DUPUIS
Moïse Dupuis was born in Québec on 8 July 1673, the second child of immigrant parents
who later settled in Laprairie, near Montréal. As a teenager Moïse followed the path
taken by many young Frenchmen in Canada and became a coureur-de-bois -- an independent
(and often unauthorized) trader of furs who plied the rivers of the north by canoe
and exchanged European goods for the hides of animals trapped by Indians. By 1696
his trade -- which may have included smuggling -- had taken him to the Hudson River
and to the Dutch settlement at Schenectady. There, he fathered a child with a “semi-black”
woman named Anna, whom seven months later he evidently married, in the Reformed Dutch
Church of Albany, New York. In the marriage record, of 21 July 1697, her name was
given as Annetje Christiaansz.
Annetje Christiaansz, according to the findings of reputable researchers, was probably
the out-of-wedlock daughter of a Dutch settler in Schenectady, named Christiaan Christiaansz,
and an African woman, possibly a slave leased to him. Christiaan married soon after
Annetje’s birth, and it is likely that she was raised in his household. There is
evidence that Annetje was abducted from Schenectady by an Indian raiding party while
still in her teens and taken by them to Québec, where she was ransomed and then returned
What do we know of Annetje’s parents? Her father, Christiaan Christiaansz, was born
in the Netherlands in about 1640 and arrived on the Hudson River in 1659, where he
had been hired as an indentured laborer by the prominent van Rensselaer family of
Rensselaerswyck, near Albany. By 1671 he completed his indenture and purchased a
small plot of land in Schenectady, which was then a community of fewer than 200 settlers
on the frontier of Mohawk country. He was still a junior member of the community
five years later when Annetje was born.
Annetje’s mother, whose name we do not know, was of African descent and undoubtedly
a slave. At that time there were about a dozen African slaves in Schenectady, most
of them female, engaged in domestic and farm labor for individual families. It is
likely that she had been imported from one of the plantation settlements in the Caribbean
-- Curaçao, Barbados, or Jamaica -- rather than directly from Africa, since the Hudson
River settlers preferred to purchase slaves who had worked on the plantations, considering
them more pliable than recent arrivals from Africa.
Edgar McManus, the leading authority on slavery in New Netherland, notes that the
Dutch were largely free of racial prejudice and treated their slaves in much the
same way as they treated indentured European workers, as an expensive source of labor
to be sensibly exploited but not abused: “Despite their unequal relationship, masters
and slaves worked together at the same tasks, lived together in the same houses,
and celebrated the Dutch holidays together on terms of easy familiarity.” We do not
know if she and Christiaan were more than casual acquaintances. It is unlikely that
he owned her, since he was not yet wealthy enough to afford the current price of
a slave, which was about one year’s wages for an adult male worker. But he may have
leased her, a common practice at that time.
Soon after their marriage, in 1697, Annetje and Moïse moved to Québec, where in 1699
she was baptized in the Catholic Church and given the names Marie Anne Louise. The
couple settled in Laprairie, near Moïse’s parents, and had nine children, most of
whom survived to adulthood. We descend from their daughter Barbe, born in 1715. Both
Moïse and Annetje died in 1750.
PIERRE EDMÉ THUOT DIT DUVAL
The first Duval of our line in New France was Pierre Edmé Thuot dit Duval, born in
1681 in Tonnerre, a town in Burgundy about 120 miles southeast of Paris. He was a
son of master baker Edmé Thuot, who in 1668 had married Marie Louise Duval, daughter
of François Duval, a huissier royal (royal bailiff). With this match, Edmé took a
definite upward social step in class-obsessed France, and henceforth the family was
often called Thuot dit (also known as) Duval. Two hundred years later, as discussed
below, our Wisconsin ancestors chose to make Duval their sole surname.
Pierre was, interestingly, the next to last of our 185 immigrant ancestors to arrive
in New France. By 1709 he was in Montréal, which we know because he fathered an illegitimate
child there who was born early the following year. By 1712 he was established in
Montréal as a master baker, and in that year he married Marie Fournier. Marie was
a granddaughter of an immigrant from the town of Irancy, which is just twenty miles
from Tonnerre, and it is possible that this connection sheds light on Pierre’s decision
to immigrate to New France, given that very few settlers otherwise came from this
part of France.
Pierre and Marie moved between Montréal and Québec City several times, which suggests
that his baking enterprise may have been more than just a single shop. Between 1713
and 1725 they had ten children, the last of whom was Thomas Ignace, great-great grandfather
of Charles Duval. It is worth noting that the witnesses at their marriage and many
of the godparents for the ten baptisms were distinguished members of the community.
It is also worth noting that Pierre was able to sign his marriage record and all
of his children’s baptism records, while his son Thomas Ignace was not -- a case
of declining family literacy, which was not at all unusual in French Canada. Marie
died in 1725 in Montréal; five years later Pierre died in Longueuil, a Montréal suburb.
CHARLES, SARAH, AND THEIR CHILDREN
CHARLES DUVAL, 1843-1924
Charles Duval was born on 27 April 1843 in Ste-Martine, Québec, an agricultural community
fifteen miles south of Montréal. He was a son of Michel Duval, a farmer in the community,
and Marie Anne Lefebvre, who had been married in Ste-Martine in 1831. Michel and
Marie Anne had thirteen children between 1833 and 1858, eight of whom survived to
It is important to note that the surname given to Charles at baptism was not Duval
but rather Thuot (pronounced TYOO-et). While his ancestors had used Duval as a secondary
surname since the late 1600s in France, they generally preferred to call themselves
Thuot. It was only later in life that Charles chose to use Duval exclusively as his
surname, probably because it was easier for English-speaking Americans to pronounce.
In the late 1840s, Charles’s family moved to the nearby village of Beauharnois and
then by 1849 settled in St-Louis-de-Gonzague. There is no evidence that Charles ever
attended school. While he was probably taught by the parish priest to recite the
Catechism, he did not learn to read or write, and he always signed his name with
a mark. This was not unusual for French Canadians of his time, since the Catholic
Church was suspicious of education and its potential to fuel challenges to the established
religious and social order.
In early 1858, at the age of 14, Charles set off, probably with a group of relatives
and friends, to find work in the United States. He entered at the port of Detroit
and probably stayed in the area for a while as a farm worker and perhaps as a carpenter
and construction worker, for which he had received some training. Before long, however,
he returned to Canada, probably to avoid conscription by the Union army in the U.S.
Civil War. In 1861, he was again with his parents in Québec, in the village of St-Stanislas-de-Kostka.
In 1865, at the age of 21, Charles married for the first time, in the parish church
of St-Louis-de-Gonzague. His bride was Emélie Lefebvre, daughter of a farming family
in Ste-Martine. Since Charles was a day-laborer without a farm of his own, his new
family moved frequently from village to village to find work. In late 1865 their
first child was baptized in St-Louis-de-Gonzague, but two years later they were living
in Ormstown, returning to St-Louis-de-Gonzague by 1869. In late 1870, Emélie died,
at the age of 24, leaving Charles with two young daughters, Marguerite, born in 1867,
and Odina, born in 1869.
In 1871 Charles was living in St-Louis-de-Gonzague with his two daughters and six
other relatives: his brother Damase and the latter’s wife Zoe Lefebvre (who was a
sister of Charles’s deceased wife Emélie), his mother-in-law Josephte Lefebvre (née
Cuillerier), 63 years old and widowed, and three of the latter’s adult children,
including the head of the household, Louis Lefebvre, 25 years old and unmarried.
By this point in his life, Charles, like hundreds of thousands of his fellow French
Canadians at that time, had decided to emigrate to the United States, where both
land and employment opportunities were far more abundant than in Québec. In preparation
for emigration, he traveled to the United States and may have devoted as much as
a year to exploring possible destinations. While the great majority of French Canadian
emigrants moved to New England, Charles chose instead to settle in central Wisconsin,
near the village of Unity, on the border between Clark and Marathon counties. While
his reasons for selection of this village are not known, it should be noted that
a few French Canadian families were already settled there and that Charles may have
previously been in communication with them. During his absence in the United States,
Charles left his two daughters in the care of his mother-in-law and her son Louis.
By early 1873 Charles had returned to Québec. On February 10th of that year, in the
parish church of St-Louis-de-Gonzague, he married Marie Célanire St. Aubin, who was
originally from nearby Ormstown and was by 1873 living and working in Montréal. The
couple had few worldly assets and did not bother to draft a civil marriage contract.
They soon prepared to emigrate to Wisconsin. Among the preparations, Charles recorded
an agreement in March with his brother-in-law, Louis Lefebvre, that the latter and
his mother would continue to care for Charles’s two daughters and would receive twenty
dollars per year from Charles to cover the expenses. It was further agreed that Charles
could, at his discretion, decide later to bring the two girls to join him in the
United States, but the terms of the notarized agreement make it clear that this was
unlikely to happen and that it was intended that they remain permanently with their
grandmother and uncle in Québec, which they ultimately did.
By the middle of the year 1873 Charles and his wife Célanire, who called herself
Sarah after settling in Wisconsin, had arrived near Unity and had rented a house
and probably a small farm, where Charles could both cultivate crops and engage in
his trade of carpentry and construction work. In December their first child, Charles,
was born. Over the following twelve years eight more children were born, all but
one of whom survived to adulthood. By 1880 Charles and Célanire had been joined in
Wisconsin by four members of Charles’s family: his father Michel, his mother Marie
Anne (née Lefebvre), and his younger siblings Philomène, who married Hubert Beaudin
in about 1875, and Alexis, who married Delia Leclaire in Dorchester, Wisconsin, in
In 1877 Charles purchased his first significant piece of real estate, 160 acres in
Brighton, Marathon County, just to the east of Unity. In 1888, by which time he and
Célanire had moved to Marshfield, Wood County, he sold the land in Brighton and then
in 1889 purchased 160 acres just southwest of Unity, in Clark County. In 1897 he
lost this property in foreclosure and moved to a rented farm near Unity, where his
main source of income again became carpentry and construction work. Soon after 1900
he moved to forty acres of farmland that he had purchased in McMillan, Marathon County,
to the east of Unity, where he and Célanire lived for the rest of their lives.
Charles died on 21 May 1924 in Marshfield, Wisconsin, from injuries suffered from
falling down a stairway at the home of his granddaughter Julia Duval on her wedding
SARAH DUVAL (MARIE CÉLANIRE ST. AUBIN), 1847-1924
Marie Célanire St. Aubin, whom her children and grandchildren knew as Sarah, was
born on 18 June 1847 in the village of Ormstown, Québec, about twenty miles south
of Montréal. She was a daughter of Michel St. Aubin and Marie Bourdon, who had been
married in the nearby town of Chateauguay in 1840. Michel and Marie had seven children
between 1841 and 1854, six of whom survived to adulthood.
Since Célanire’s father was a laborer, the family moved frequently from village to
village in the rural area south of Montréal as he sought work. Over the years, they
lived in Ste-Philomène, Ste-Martine, Ormstown, St-Louis-de-Gonzague, and St-Timothée.
Célanire lived with her parents and siblings until her twenty-fourth year, in 1871,
at which time she moved to Montréal, where she probably found work in one of the
clothing and textile factories that were then hiring large numbers of young women.
(She told her children that she had been a seamstress before marrying.)
On 10 February 1873, she married Charles Duval in St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Québec. There
is no record of how they might have met, but it is possible that they had become
acquainted in the late 1860s when Charles was living and working in Ormstown, where
Célanire and her family were also living at the time. She and Charles departed soon
after their marriage for Wisconsin, where Charles had previously determined that
they would live.
In the United States, Célanire soon began calling herself Sarah, perhaps because
her real name was unfamiliar to her new, English-speaking neighbors in Wisconsin.
Between 1873 and 1885, she and Charles had nine children, of whom eight survived
to adulthood. Two of her siblings also emigrated to the United States and settled
near her in Wisconsin: her older brother François Xavier (Frank), who married Clotilde
Allain in Fond du Lac in 1884, and her younger sister Marie Marguerite, who married
David Viau in about 1881. In late 1880 or early 1881, Célanire’s mother joined the
family in Wisconsin, following the death of her husband in Québec.
Like Charles, Célanire never learned to read or write.
Célanire/Sarah died on 22 March 1924 in McMillan, Marathon County, from complications
THE CHILDREN OF CHARLES AND SARAH
CHARLES DUVAL, 1873-1963
Charles, the first child of Charles and Sarah, was born in Unity on 19 December 1873
and baptized five months later at St. Stephen’s in Stevens Point, which was the nearest
Catholic church to Unity at that time. In 1893 in Colby, Clark County, he married
Mary Elizabeth Rocheleau, daughter of French-Canadian immigrants. They had nine children
in Wood and Clark counties and then moved to Gary, Indiana. Mary died in 1949, and
a year later Charles married Helen Selby. Charles died in Gary in 1963. Family photos
. . .
CHILDREN OF CHARLES AND MARY (ROCHELEAU) DUVAL
Leo Charles Duval, 1893-1977
Edwin Thomas Duval, 1896-1958
Clara Loretta Duval, 1898-1984
Ozilda Mary Duval, 1901-79
Laura Loretta Duval, 1903-05
Emery Michael Duval 1906-77
Lawrence Frank Duval, 1909-87
Agnes Elnora Duval, 1912-99
Ione Violet Duval, 1917-2012
MARIE MAUDE DUVAL, 1875-after 1930
Maude, the oldest daughter of Charles and Sarah, was born in Unity on 12 January
1875 and baptized three months later at St. Stephen’s in Stevens Point. In 1889 in
Colby she married Joseph Paquin, with whom she evidently had no surviving children.
Joseph died in about 1895, and in 1896 in Marshfield, Wood County, she married William
Adelbert Sheldon, with whom she had one son. By 1910 the family had settled in Harlowton,
Montana. William died in Montana between 1920 and 1930, and Maude was still living
in Harlowton in 1930, supporting herself by taking in lodgers.
MARCIAN THEODORE (CLAUDE) DUVAL, 1876-1952
Marcian Theodore, the third child of Charles and Sarah, who called himself Claude,
was born in Unity on 14 March 1876 and baptized two weeks later at St. Stephen’s
in Stevens Point. By 1900 he had moved to Montana and settled in Gilt Edge, Fergus
County. By 1920 he was in Everett, Washington, working as a railroad car repairer.
By 1930 he had moved to South Lake Stevens, Washington, and was working on a farm.
Although he married twice, he was evidently childless. He died in Hewitt, Wood County,
Wisconsin, in 1952.
THOMAS DUVAL, 1878-1963
Thomas, the fourth child of Charles and Sarah, was born in Unity on 23 May 1878 and
baptized ten weeks later at St. John’s Catholic Church in Marshfield. His godparents
were Michel Thuot dit Duval and Marie Anne Lefebvre Duval, his grandparents, who
had by then joined Charles and Sarah in Wisconsin. By 1900, he had settled in Rondell,
South Dakota, where in 1901 he married Minnie Dayton, with whom he had three children
between 1902 and 1908. The family moved to Fergus County, Montana, by 1920, and Thomas
continued to work as a farmer. Minnie died there, in the town of Lewiston, in 1962,
and Thomas died the following year.
LOUIS ALFRED (FRED) DUVAL, 1879-after 1930
Louis Alfred, the fifth child of Charles and Sarah, who called himself Fred, was
born in Unity on 1 September 1879 and baptized two months later at St. John’s Catholic
Church in Marshfield. He remained in Wisconsin, close to his parents, and in about
1906 he married Marie Hebert. They had six children between 1908 and 1918. We lose
track of him in later records, but it may be he who is found in 1930 in La Plata
County, Colorado, living alone as a boarder (though married) and employed as a farm
FRANCIS XAVIER (FRANK) DUVAL, 1880-1951
Francis Xavier, the sixth child of Charles and Sarah, who called himself Frank, was
born in Unity on 1 December 1880 and baptized eight months later at St. John’s Catholic
Church in Marshfield. His godparents were his uncle François Xavier St. Aubin and
his aunt Marie Marguerite St. Aubin, who by this time had joined Charles and Sarah
in Wisconsin. In 1909 in Marshfield Frank married Alma Stella Boucher, daughter of
French-Canadian immigrants, with whom he had three children. Frank died in Marshfield
in 1951. Stella died in Marshfield in 1993, at the age of 103. Family photos . .
CHILDREN OF FRANK AND STELLA (BOUCHER) DUVAL
Michael Lloyd Duval, 1910-69
Pearl Victoria Duval, 1918-96
Gordon Louis Duval, b.1923
MICHAEL ANDREW DUVAL, 1882-1925
Michael, the seventh child of Charles and Sarah, was born in Unity on 28 December
1882 and baptized five weeks later at St. John’s Catholic Church in Marshfield. His
godparents were his aunt Marie Marguerite St. Aubin and her husband David Viau, who
had recently married. As Michael grew up, he developed into an attractive, intelligent,
ambitious, and hard working man, but he wasn’t the kind of person who would get a
steady job and meticulously climb the ladder of success. Instead, he was restless
and was always looking for an angle and for a way to make his fortune. He clearly
enjoyed life and people and liked to have a good time.
He left school early, as did almost everyone at that time, and by the age of sixteen
he was working as a lumberjack. His first big opportunity occurred when he met Elizabeth
(Lizzie) Beaver and convinced her to marry him. He recognized in her a person who
was his total opposite -- quiet, respectful, cautious, and dependable -- and he knew
that she would make a good home for him and his children and would be willing to
forgive him whatever he might do. Equally important was the fact that she came with
a dowry, which was substantial enough for him to make a down payment on a cheese
factory, probably in 1903, shortly after their marriage. Between 1904 and 1924, Michael
and Elizabeth had eleven children, including a pair of twins.
For several years Michael produced and delivered cheese, and he even managed to invent
a device for improving the efficiency of cheese manufacture, which he patented, but
he never realized any benefit from the invention, possibly because the potential
market was too small. It seems as well that he thought of himself as an inventor,
because he devoted some effort to one of the great fantasies of that time, the discovery
of a “perpetual motion” machine, which would run forever on its own momentum, without
fuel. The successful inventor of such a machine would, of course, be wealthy beyond
By 1920, Michael had disposed of the cheese factory and was in the business of upholstering
furniture. In 1921, he left that work and opened a shop with his brother Charles
at 327 North Central in Marshfield that distributed auto batteries, carburetors,
and tires. (His brother in law Philip Beaver operated an auto repair shop at the
same address.) But at this point a new opportunity came his way. The enactment of
the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in 1920, prohibited the manufacture
and sale of alcoholic beverages. Men in rural communities across the country saw
an opportunity -- though illegal and risky -- to make big profits distilling home-brewed
whisky, and Michael was among them.
By about 1922 Michael had moved his family a few miles outside of Marshfield to a
rented farm and was manufacturing and selling moonshine. It was evidently an open
secret that he was engaged in this activity, and it is likely that local law enforcement
officers enjoyed his products and perhaps even received a share of his profits. The
money rolled in, and soon Michael was looking for a way to invest it and build his
Prohibition brought many changes in the 1920s in America. Although it was well intentioned,
it led to the rise of a vast underworld serving the public’s unquenchable thirst
for alcohol. Organized gangs, most notably the mafia, smuggled bottled liquor into
the country in great quantities; amateur distilleries were built across the country;
and entrepreneurs in every town and city opened speakeasies, where paying customers
could get a drink and have a good time. Urban centers, such as Chicago and New York,
witnessed the rise of a new class of wealthy men, who made their fortunes from this
trade and liberally spread their wealth to those who surrounded and served them.
Wisconsin became a special beneficiary of the new prohibition wealth when Chicago
gangsters discovered the attractions of the lakes in the northern part of the state,
near Rhinelander. Soon, their vacation retreats began to appear on the lakeshores,
and speakeasies and other establishments were opened to serve a new class of customers.
Michael, always open to new opportunities, and now in possession of his moonshining
profits, traveled to Rhinelander, scouted the surrounding area, and in 1925 purchased
a plot of land on a lake to the west of nearby Woodruff. In August of that year,
he began construction of a two story building near the lake that was to be a nightclub
(and speakeasy) as well as a new home for his family. In November, as the building
was nearing completion, he brought his family up from Marshfield to join him.
On the evening of Sunday, December 20, the day that the family moved from the old
house on the property to the new house, Michael gathered a few friends to celebrate,
drink, and play music. (Michael himself played the violin.) Among the friends was
Charles J. (Charley) Rey, who had come up from Marshfield the previous day by train
and had spent the night with the family.
Charley Rey was a nearly illiterate laborer who was, at that time, 67 years old and
therefore 25 years older than Michael. In about 1915 he had moved from his native
Michigan to Marshfield, where he got a job as a street sweeper for the town. In the
early 1920s -- and therefore just at the time that Michael began his moonshining
activities -- Charley Rey opened a shop on Central, where he sharpened knives, lawnmowers,
and other household items. Charley Rey was also a heavy drinker, and it is likely
that he was one of Michael’s best customers. It is also possible -- although there
is no explicit supporting evidence -- that Charley Rey had been set up in his shop
by Michael and that the shop was a front for retail distribution of Michael’s moonshine.
If this were true, it would explain how Charley Rey had been able to afford to open
the shop and why he had been invited to celebrate with the family on December 20,
although he apparently had nothing in common with Michael.
In any case, on the evening of December 20, Charley Rey mortally wounded Michael
with a shot from a revolver that he had brought with him from Marshfield. Michael
was taken to a hospital in Rhinelander, where he died on Christmas day. The subsequent
police investigation and jury trial declared that Rey had been temporarily insane
at the time as a result of the ingestion of a toxic amount of moonshine and that
he had not been criminally responsible for his actions. He was committed to the Central
State Hospital for the Insane in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he remained until his death
in 1932. While the verdict of temporary insanity is supported by the evidence presented
in the transcript of the trial, it is not certain that the full story was told or
will ever be known. Family photos . . .
CHILDREN OF MICHAEL AND ELIZABETH (BEAVER) DUVAL
Alvin Frank Duval, 1904-28
Julia B. Duval, 1905-52
Raymond Carl (Ray) Duval, 1908-89
Cecilia Anna (Ceil) Duval, 1910-2000
Francis Gilbert (Gil) Duval, 1912-72
Pius Leopold Duval, 1914-2000
Genevieve Adaline (Geneva) Duval, 1916-99
Harold Frederic Duval, 1918-81
Helen Ann Duval, 1922-2014
Evelyn Marie Duval, 1922-2016
Donald John Duval, 1924-34
MARY CLARE (EDNA or MAMIE) DUVAL, 1885-after 1930
Mary Clare, the last child of Charles and Sarah, who called herself Edna or Mamie,
was born in Unity on 26 September 1885 and baptized two weeks later at St. Mary's
Catholic Church in Colby. In 1908 she married Francis Mathias (Frank) Herman, and
they settled in Spencer, Wisconsin, where they had five children. Frank died in 1953
in Marshfield, and Edna died sometime after him. Family photos . . .
THE DUVAL FAMILY TREE
To have French-Canadian ancestors is to have an astonishing and ready-made family
tree. From the very beginning of French settlement in Canada, in the early 1600s,
the Catholic priests responsible for the spiritual lives of their parishioners maintained
thorough and complete records of all vital events, including marriages, baptisms,
and burials. The marriage records are especially important, since they almost always
include the full names, including mother’s maiden surname, of the parents of the
bridal couple. In the case of immigrants, the town of origin in France is usually
also given. These vital records have been carefully preserved, indexed, published,
and studied, primarily in the interest of maintaining and reinforcing the unique
culture and identity of French Canada.
Our Duval family tree currently consists of 745 ancestors, with most lines finding
their origins in specific towns and villages in France and extending in many cases
to the 1500s. All but four ancestral lines were French. The exceptions are a line
originating in Burgos, Spain (Alve), one in Basel, Switzerland (Lebreul), one in
the Netherlands (Christiaanz), and one in Africa. Notwithstanding the suggestion
of one Duval researcher, there were no Native American (Indian) ancestors at all.
Of the 745 ancestors, 185 were of the generation of immigrants to French Canada,
with nearly all arriving in the 1600s. Two-thirds of the immigrants arrived in the
twenty years from 1650 to 1670, which makes the Duval family tree typical of French-Canadian
ancestries. Also typical was the distribution of their places of origin, concentrated
in the north and west of France, where there had long been involvement with Atlantic
trade. Atypically, however, there were no lines that originally settled in Acadia
(today Nova Scotia), from which many French lines dispersed after their expulsion
by the British in 1755.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME DUVAL
There is a long tradition in France of “dit” names -- adopted names that individuals
added to their baptismal names that sometimes then became part of a family’s surname
through many generations. Thus, an individual might be known as Jacques Lefebvre
dit (also known as) Lafleur, and he might well use the names interchangeably throughout
his lifetime and pass them on to his children. Often these dit names were nicknames
assumed by journeymen artisans as they traveled through France, and they could accordingly
be quite colorful -- such as Jolicoeur (Happy Heart) or Malboeuf (Bad Beef). Often
they were nicknames adopted by soldiers. Sometimes they referred to the geographical
origin of the family, perhaps to distinguish it from other families with the same
surname. And sometimes they reflected an important moment in the history of a family,
such as a significant marriage. For example, many of the descendants of our prominent
ancestor Nicolas Marsolet, who was ultimately without male heirs to carry on his
name, were called “dit Marsolet,” to highlight their distinguished ancestry and to
keep the name alive.
Our Charles Duval (1843-1924) was baptized Charles Thuot, but as an adult he called
himself Charles Thuot dit Duval, a name that his ancestors had used for nearly 200
years. (Thuot is pronounced TYOO-et in Canada.) Its origins are found in an important
marriage in France. Charles’s 4th great grandfather, Edmé Thuot, was a master baker
in the town of Tonnerre, in Burgundy. While he was undoubtedly a respected tradesman,
it was a distinct social step upward -- in class-obsessed France -- when in 1668
he married Marie Louise Duval, daughter of a royal bailiff. From that time forward,
he and his descendants were known as Thuot dit Duval, and the name came to Québec
with his emigrant son Pierre Edmé shortly after 1700.
In general, the extended family used only Thuot when referring to themselves in Québec,
although “dit Duval” was occasionally added to it or even used alone. The use of
Duval as the sole surname began to occur consistently when family members emigrated
to the United States or to western Canada, probably because they found that their
new English-speaking neighbors could pronounce Duval more easily than Thuot. The
first large group of these Duvals settled in the late 1700s in Monroe County, Michigan,
just south of Detroit, and there are many Duvals living in the area today. They are
descendants of Ignace Joachim Thuot, born in 1751, son of Thomas Ignace Thuot, mentioned
above. You can read about one of them in a recent news article. Only a few emigrants
to the United States continued to use Thuot as their surname, among them the ancestors
of our cousin the noted American astronaut Pierre Joseph Thuot, who pronounces his
In France and in Québec, the name has always been spelled Duval, pronounced Dyoo-VAHL.
In America, the spelling has often been changed to Duvall, DuVal, or even Du Val.
It is likely that these spelling variations arose because English-speakers sometimes
saw the name Duval and pronounced it clumsily, as DOO-vuhl. Changing the spelling
increased the likelihood of correct pronunciation.
OUR 745 ANCESTORS
The complete family tree of Charles and Sarah is now available on line at Rootsweb.
This link takes you to the page for their son Michael, but any of their children
can be used as an entry point.
SOURCES AND NOTES
HISTORY OF FRENCH CANADA
Barkan, Elliott Robert, “French Canadians,” in the Harvard Encyclopedia of American
Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thernstrom (Cambridge, 1980), pages 388-401.
Brown, Craig (editor), The Illustrated History of Canada, 5th edition (Toronto, 2007).
A very good one-volume history of the entire country.
Bumsted, J.M., The Peoples of Canada: A Pre-Confederation History (Don Mills, Ontario,
2010). A general survey, anglophone-oriented and stronger on post-1760 events. It
is verbose, repetitious, and superficial; prone to emphasizing unimportant details;
and occasionally inaccurate. (Louis Hébert was an apothecary, not a surgeon.) Significantly,
it is the assigned textbook for the introductory course in Canadian history at McGill
Charbonneau, Hubert, et al, The First French Canadians: Pioneers in the St. Lawrence
Valley (Newark, 1993). In effect, a detailed summary of everything learned over the
previous twenty years by the team of demographers at the University of Montréal who
have assembled, computerized, and analyzed the vital records of the first two centuries
of Québec. Indispensable.
Dechêne, Louise, Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth Century Montréal (Montréal,
1992). Translation of the groundbreaking quantitative study of the early economy
and society of Montréal, originally published in French in 1974.
Delâge, Denys, Bitter Feast: Amerindians and Europeans in Northeastern North America,
1600-64 (Vancouver, 1993). An enjoyable and thoroughly Gallic overview, redolent
of Marx and cultural relativism, with touches of Rousseau and Fanon. Well translated
from the original French.
Dickenson, John, and Brian Young, A Short History of Québec (Montréal, 2008). A thoroughgoing
materialist survey of social and economic history. Good background to the current
Douville, Raymond, and Jacques Casanova, Daily Life in Early Canada (London, 1968).
A fairly good compendium of anecdotal details regarding the various social classes,
although it is decidedly pro-clerical and not very well translated from the French.
Eccles, W.J., Canada under Louis XIV, 1663-1701 (Toronto, 1964). An absorbing and
even entertaining narrative of a potentially obscure epoch by an outstanding historian
who sees the virtues of the French attitude toward life.
Eccles, W.J., The French in North America, 1500-1783 (Markham, Ontario, 1998). Outspoken,
well-written, and decidedly pro-French. The emphasis is on diplomatic and military
Fischer, David Hackett, Champlain’s Dream (New York, 2008). Wonderfully readable
despite being deeply detailed and undeniably scholarly, this dense volume by a Pulitzer
Prize-winning historian is essentially a panegyric to its subject, Samuel de Champlain.
Fournier, Marcel, Les Premiers Montréalistes, 1642-1643: Les origines de Montréal
Greer, Allan, The Patriots and the People: The Rebellion of 1837 in Rural Lower Canada
(Toronto, 1993). Places the events of the 1830s in their historical context, with
detailed background on social and economic conditions.
Greer, Allan, Peasant, Lord, and Merchant: Rural Society in Three Quebec Parishes
1740-1840 (Toronto, 1985). An excellent survey of the economic foundations of rural
society, occasionally marred by unfulfilled revisionist pretensions and haphazard
Greer, Allan, The People of New France (Toronto, 1997). Concise and well written,
but limited in scope, occasionally glib, and unfailingly politically correct.
Neatby, Hilda, Quebec: the Revolutionary Age, 1760-1791 (Toronto, 1966). A competent
and readable administrative history, highlighting the efforts of Canada’a first three
British governors to balance the interests of the francophone and anglophone populations.
Lanctot, Gustave, Montreal under Maisonneuve, 1642-1665 (Toronto, 1969). A pedestrian
but useful rendition of the early history of Montreal; indifferently translated from
the original French.
Litalien, Raymonde, and Denis Vaugeois, editors, Champlain: The Birth of French America
(Montréal, 2004). Lavishly illustrated coffee-table book containing scholarly articles,
many relevant and readable.
Miquelon, Dale, New France, 1701-1744: A Supplement to Europe (Toronto, 1987). As
implied by the title, much concerned with European politics and diplomacy. Articulate,
but long-winded and occasionally obtuse.
Moogk, Peter N., La Nouvelle France: The Making of French Canada -- A Cultural History
(East Lansing, 2000). Essays on key aspects of social history, with a concluding
chapter that argues that modern Québec is exclusive, conservative, authoritarian,
and paternalistic because of its unique history. Best read after surveying the underlying
political and economic history.
Ouellet, Fernand, Lower Canada, 1791-1840: Social Change and Nationalism (Toronto,
1988). Translation and abridgement of the 1976 French original. Thorough economic-political
study by an influential follower of the French Annales school. More digestible than
his renowned Histoire économique et sociale du Québec, 1760-1850.
Snow, Dan, Death or Victory: The Battle for Quebec and the Birth of Empire (London,
2009). A detailed and very readable -- though poorly edited -- account of the climactic
1759 siege, mostly from the British perspective.
Stanley, George F.G., New France: The Last Phase, 1744-1760 (Toronto, 1968). Workmanlike
narrative, by a military historian, of the events culminating in the fall of New
Trudel, Marcel, Introduction to New France (Pawtucket, 1997). Translation of the
1968 work in French. Quirky and rough-edged, but probably the most readable and comprehensive
single-volume introduction to the history and society of Québec.
Trudel, Marcel, The Beginnings of New France, 1524-1663 (Toronto, 1973). A thorough,
well-documented political and administrative history of the period by a distinguished
French-Canadian historian, especially well translated from the original French.
PIONEERS OF MONTRÉAL
Auger, Roland, La Grande Recrue de 1653 (Montréal, 1955). The first detailed study,
and now a classic. An inadequate English translation is available (Pawtucket, 2002).
Langlois, Michel, Montréal 1653: La Grande Recrue (Sillery, 2003). A much-needed
updating of Auger’s work.
Trudel, Marcel, Montréal: la formation d’une societé, 1642-1663, (Montréal, 1976).
Meticulous, thorough, and plainly written, with a definitive answer for every significant
question about the founding of Montréal.
DAUGHTERS AND SOLDIERS
Landry, Yves, Orphelines en France, pionnières au Canada: les Filles du roi au XVIIe
siècle (Ottawa, 1992). Authoritative, thorough, and complete.
Verney, Jack, The Good Regiment: The Carignan-Salières Regiment in Canada, 1665-1668
(Montréal, 1991). A concise, workmanlike history of the 1,200 soldiers dispatched
from France to quell the Iroquois threat to Québec. Debunks the later myth that the
soldiers, many of whom settled in New France, were saintly crusaders rather than
Bennett, Ethel M.G., “Hébert, Louis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
Couillard-Després, Azarie, Louis Hébert: premier colon canadian et sa famille (Lille,
1913). A quaint, florid, and naive elegy, largely fantasy and invention, by a Catholic
Faragher, John Mack, A Great and Noble Scheme (New York, 2005). Succinctly describes
the early Acadian settlements.
Fischer, David Hackett, Champlain’s Dream (New York, 2008). Includes a useful discussion
of Hébert’s relationship with Champlain.
Goulet, George and Terry, Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet: Canada’s Premier Pioneers
(Calgary, 2007). Full of misinformation and stylistically reminiscent of a term paper
written by a mediocre tenth grader.
Jurgens, M., “Recherches sur Louis Hébert et sa famille,” Mémoires de la Société
généalogique canadienne-française, VIII, 2 (April 1957), 106-12; VIII, 3 (July 1957),
135-45; XI, 1-2 (January-April 1960), 24-31. Detailed and thorough presentation of
information in French archives.
Fischer, David Hackett, Champlain’s Dream (New York, 2008). Good summary of Marsolet’s
interactions with Champlain, although overwhelmingly biased toward the latter individual.
Trigger, Bruce G., Natives and Newcomers: Canada’s “Heroic Age” Reconsidered (Montreal,
1985). Useful sections on the Montagnais’ relations with the French from their point
Trudel, Marcel, “Charité, Espérance, Foi,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. The
author, normally skeptical and incisive, in this instance accepts Champlain’s narrative
of the two Indian girls without question.
Vachon, André, “Marsolet de Saint-Aignan, Nicolas,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
ANNETJE CHRISTIAANSZ AND MOÏSE DUPUIS
The University of Montréal’s authoritative Programme de recherche en démographie
historique (PRDH) considers it “probable” that the “semi-black” Anna who was the
mother of Moïse’s out-of-wedlock child was the same person as Annetje Christiaansz,
whom he married seven months later (PRDH record 21959). PRDH notes that it has not
been proven that Christiaan Christiaansz was Annetje’s father, but researcher Barbara
Barth has provided evidence by noting that the family who sponsored the out-of-wedlock
child of Moïse and Annetje also sponsored a child of Christiaan Christiaansz’s sister-in-law.
Contrary to the assertions of several researchers, there is absolutely no evidence
that Annetje was a daughter of Christiaan Christiaansz and his wife Elizabeth Ysbrant
Eldersz, and the dating of relevant events makes it very unlikely in any case.
Barth, Barbara A., "The Family of Ysbrant Eldersz of Rennselaerswyck," New York Genealogical
and Biographical Record, October 1997. Summarizes what is known about Christiaan
Burke, Thomas E., Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, 1661-1710
McManus, Edgar J., A History of Negro Slavery in New York (Syracuse, 1966).
PIERRE EDMÉ THUOT DIT DUVAL
Genealogica and Heraldica -- Acts of the 22nd International Congress of Genealogy
and Heraldry (Ottawa, 1996), 178-79. Presents research findings on the early ancestry
of the Thuot dit Duval family.
CHARLES AND SARAH DUVAL
1858 entry to Michigan: Declaration of Intention to Become a Citizen of Charles Duval,
Wood County, Wisconsin, 23 October 1886.
1871: Census of Canada, Québec Province, Beauharnois District, page 126.
1872: visit to the United States: Charles’s 1873 marriage record states that he was
“ci-devant des Etats-Unis” (previously of the United States). This can refer only
to the period immediately before his marriage, since he had been living in Québec
between 1860 and 1871.
1873 marriage: Parish register of St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Québec, page 142, marriage
record number 5.
1873 agreement with Louis Lefebvre regarding his children: Notarial records of E.H.
Bisson, number 3778, dated 3 March 1873, St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Québec.
1875 Wisconsin census: in Brighton, Marathon County.
1877 land purchase: deed dated 26 March 1877, Marathon County.
1880 US census: in Brighton, Marathon County.
1885 Wisconsin census: in Brighton, Marathon County.
1888 land sale: deed dated 19 April 1888, Marathon County.
1889 land purchase: deed dated 9 March 1889, Marathon County.
1895 Wisconsin census: in Unity, Clark County.
1897 foreclosure: see Clark County land documents, vol. 55, page 428.
1900 US census: in Unity, Clark County. Charles now rents a farm, and his primary
occupation is carpentry.
Farmland in McMillan after 1900: See Wausau City/Marathon County directories of 1899.
The forty acres were in Section 30, Township 26, Range 3.
1905 Wisconsin census: in McMillan, Marathon County. Charles now owns a mortgaged
farm, and his primary occupation is farmer.
1910 US census: in McMillan, Marathon County. Charles owns a mortgaged farm, and
his primary occupation is farmer.
1920 US census: in McMillan, Marathon County. Charles is retired.
MICHAEL ANDREW DUVAL
Michael’s planned speakeasy, for which he purchased land on 27 July 1925, was in
Vilas County, Lots 1 and 2, NE of NE, Section 34, Township 40, Range 6 East. The
price of the land was $5,000, with $100 down and the rest to be paid within five
years at 5% interest. The trust holders (the previous owners) filed an action of
foreclosure on 28 December 1929 and repossessed the property. Following the death
in 1928 of Michael’s oldest son, Alvin, who had operated the speakeasy after his
father’s death, the family could no longer afford to operate the speakeasy and make
payments. Apart from Alvin, the family had returned to Marshfield soon after Michael’s
death. The structure that Michael built is still standing and in use as a private
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
This site was written and designed by Robert Jackson, great-grandson of Charles and
Sarah Duval through their son Michael. You can contact him via e-mail. If you can
provide additional photos, anecdotes, and documents about the family, they would
be much appreciated. In the interests of privacy, references to recent generations
have not been included, but these could be added selectively as the site develops.
Please feel free to make suggestions for improving this site!
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