At the end of the book about the life of Jeanne that I published in November, 2016, I made two promises. The first was to continue my research on her life and that of her three husbands in order to fill in the holes of information and to resolve the remaining mysteries. The second, to tell the stories of the numerous extraordinary adventures [⇒]
Finally, the story of Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier is available in French! Thanks to a wonderful team of translators and editors, I am very happy to announce the publication of the book: Jeanne Chevalier, Fille du Roi : Son histoire.
It is also available at Le Plumier, 22 24 Rue Saint-Jacques in Dieppe, France.
I hope you will find her story as captivating as I did! Please feel free to email me your comments!
After months of silence, I am back writing for my blog and along the way, have run into some problems. I would like to apologize for any strange announcements that you might have received from my blog. I hope that we have resolved them and there won’t be any new “glitches.”
Silence has not meant absence of progress, rest assured. [⇒]
One of the first Quebecois entrepreneurs
Jean-Baptiste-François Deschamps de la Bouteillerie was born around 1646 in Cliponville, a small Norman village not far from Rouen. Jean-Baptiste was one of at least 11 children born into the noble family of Jean Deschamps de Boishébert and Elizabeth or Isabeau de Bin. His family, by some reports, could trace its line back at least to the third crusade. Jean-Baptiste’s father was Seigneur de Costecoste, de Montaubert, and des Landes and had been honored by Louis XIII in 1629 for the service that he and his family had rendered to the kings of France. In keeping with the practice and laws of the times, [⇒]
In early April of this year, I went off to France to try to answer three pages of questions that I still had after many years of research on the lives of my ancestor Jeanne and her three husbands and about the history of her times in France and New France. That list included the following questions:
- What did Jeanne do in the first 28 years of her life in France? When was she orphaned? How and why did she move from Coutances to Dieppe? Why did she leave France?
- Why, how, and when did her first husband Guillaume Lecanteur come to Quebec? And what was his life like before coming to Quebec and marrying Jeanne?
- Who was Jean-Baptiste Deschamps de la Bouteillerie, her third husband, and what sort of family did he have in France?
- If documents are lacking, what are some possible answers or hypotheses that could resolve my questions?
After three weeks in Rouen, studying French and researching in the archives there, and after four weeks in Dieppe with side trips to the birthplaces of her three husbands and to the archives in Saint Lo, what do I know? [⇒]
Unlike most other grants made at the time with access to the St. Lawrence, the seigneurie Jean Baptiste Deschamps received was not long and narrow, but wide and deep instead. It was still rectangular in shape, however, measuring six miles wide along the St. Lawrence and 4 ½ miles deep into the valley. The grant included land on both banks of a river that snaked its way through the property, a river that would also take on the name “Rivière Ouelle.”
If you could walk the perimeter of the grant and manage to cross the many twists and turns of the river along the way, [⇒]
In late June, 1671, the 300-ton ship “Le Saint Jean-Baptiste” left Dieppe harbor headed for Quebec. On board was a young “gentleman,” “le sieur de la Bouteillerie,” from the Pays Caux. He brought with him two carpenters, two masons, and four laborers to settle the land which the King had given him. This land, up to the size of 1000 arpents, or about 1.32 square miles, was reported to be located between the towns of Three Rivers and Montreal. Also on board were one hundred men, 26 young women from Paris, ten mules, 50 male sheep, dry goods, blankets, and many other items that would be useful to those living in New France or for the voyage. Six months later, the ship brought back to Dieppe 10,000 livres of beaver skins, 400 moose skins, stones, wood, pitch, and many other rare items, among them a live moose of about 6 months old, a fox, and a dozen large birds to be given to the King. [⇒]
Little is actually known about what Jean-Baptiste François Deschamps de la Bouteillerie did during the year after his arrival. He appears to have been busy. He wrote a letter to his father shortly after arriving in Quebec and asked for an additional woodworker. On October 29, 1671, he hired Gabriel Lambert to also help out on the estate. Both actions suggest that he had already investigated and decided on a preferred grant site and was scoping out the work involved. The actual grant did indeed mention that he had already started working on it.
Despite Father Asseline’s reference to a promised land grant between Trois Rivières and Montreal, which I have not been able to substantiate, the land Deschamps was officially granted by Intendant Talon on October 29, 1672, lay 148 kilometers northeast of Quebec City. [⇒]
In the fall of 1674, two years after Jean Baptiste had received his grant, he began to make concessions of land to the men who had served out the terms of their three-year contracts with him and had demonstrated their commitment to settle in Quebec. Many of these men were countrymen from the same area in Normandy who came with him in 1671. My ancestor, Robert Levesque, was one of the first to receive a grant, on November 10, 1674. His land, on the southern bank of the Ouelle River, was right across from Deschamps’ estate.
At the time of their grants, most of these men, Robert included, were still single. I suspect that once they had their land secured, [⇒]
Although relatively isolated from what was happening politically in the rest of New France, Rivière-Ouelle did not remain entirely untouched by the wars with the British colonies to the south. In apparent retaliation for incursions by the French into New England, a fleet of 32 British ships with two thousand soldiers, commanded by Sir William Phips, appeared in the eastern part of New France in 1690. They first wreaked havoc on Nova Scotia/Arcadia and then later, in early October 1690, showed up off the shores of Rivière Ouelle. Their presence produced a tale that has been told and retold, often with embellishments and not without confusing facts. (http://www.apointinhistory.net/Rivière-ouelle.php). I will just summarize the events here. [⇒]