While isolated in its location far to the northeast of Quebec along the southern shore of the St. Lawrence, Rivière Ouelle had not been immune from epidemics. In 1688, nine people had died, and in 1699 the epidemic that took the lives of Jeanne’s husband Robert Levesque and of her last Lecanteur son also took nine other lives.
Four years later yet another epidemic spread through New France. There were six deaths in Rivière Ouelle between April 1703 and the end of that year. Among the dead was Jean-Baptiste Deschamps. Jean-Baptiste died on 16 December, 1703 in Rivière Ouelle, a day before his brother Adrien died in France.
Jeanne’s married life with Jean-Baptiste had had been short, only two and a half years. When he died, Jeanne was 60 years old. She had outlived three husbands, had buried six children, but still had three sons, one daughter-in-law, and one grandchild? She also now had a title and was referred to in documents and presumably among the people of Rivière Ouelle as “Madame de la Bouteillerie?” Again, as in 1699 after the death of her second husband, she chose to stay in Rivière Ouelle.
On November 16, 1704, Jeanne’s youngest son Joseph married Marie Angelique Meneu, another Rivière Ouelle resident who was seven years his senior. Seven months later, Pierre Joachim married Angelique LeTarte, daughter of Jeanne’s old friends in L’Ange Gardien. Jeanne traveled to L’Ange Gardien for the wedding which her other two sons also attended. Since she was surrounded by old friends, I wonder if her son’s wedding brought back memories of her wedding with Robert. Did she have the time or inclination to reflect on her life over the past 25 years?
Now that all her sons were married and now that Jeanne was once again a widow, the family needed to come to a final arrangement regarding the property and the care of Jeanne in her later years. On July 25, 1705, Jeanne made another land agreement with her sons, confirming the earlier arrangements and adding one of the two pieces of land that she had kept as part of her inheritance from her son Charles Lecanteur. The agreement also resolved what appeared to be some continuing legal squabbles resulting that the 1702 agreements had apparently not settled. The new agreement apparently ended the tensions that had arisen in the family.
As with other widows of the time, arrangements were made for Jeanne’s remaining years. She was to keep her personal belongings and have her own room in the home of one of her sons – Pierre Joachim. The sons promised to build a brick stove and to supply her annually with 4 cords of wood for heating. They agreed to give her 30 livres a year to purchase goods, wine and other necessary items, and to “winter, shelter and milk a cow and feed a chicken and rooster for her benefit.” She would also receive each year a fat male pig and 25 bushels of wheat. She kept 400 livres for prayers upon her death. She also kept seven bulls, although she let two of her sons have the use of them for four years. Finally, they all agreed to consequences that included her taking back any of the assets given in case any son failed to comply with the agreement.
In exchange for these arrangements, Jeanne gave up the rights to the land that she had as Robert’s widow, but did keep the land that Deschamps had granted in 1689 to Nicolas, her oldest Lecanteur son. Once she had agreed to the arrangements, the agreement states that her sons went into another room to negotiate the final details.
The following years
Over the next 11 years, twenty-one more grandchildren would be added to her family. Jeanne attended their baptisms as well as those of other families in Rivière Ouelle. At the baptism of one grandchild, Seigneur Deschamps was listed as a godparent with Jeanne, even though he was deceased.
On June 20, 1711, she sold the land along the St. Lawrence that Jean Baptiste had granted to her son Nicolas to Jacques Blois. Her three sons signed the sale. It is not clear why she sold the land instead of keeping it for her sons. Perhaps they didn’t need any more land, especially land that was not cleared and was not contiguous with their property. Or perhaps it was part of a deal negotiated in exchange for some work or service Blois had provided since it appears that the 100 Livres price was waived instead of being paid.
In January 1713, Jeanne had a will drawn up, an unusual action for women (or men) at the time. In it she left instructions about her funeral and services for her second husband Robert Levesque and her sons from her first husband. She also made a bequest to her goddaughter Marie Jeanne and sums for masses to be said at eight different churches in villages where she had lived or had visited. There was no mention in the will of her first or third husband. The will does reference the 1705 agreement with her sons that settled her estate as far as they were concerned.
Almost four years later, Jeanne died on November 21, 1716, two weeks after the birth of her twenty-third grandchild. She did not live to see the birth of another 13 grandchildren or any great grand-children. A large granite monument to Jeanne and her second husband, erected by the Levesque Association, is prominently located near the entrance to the cemetery next to the church in Rivière Ouelle. If her actual grave is like those of the others who died around the same time, it has been moved at least three times and is now possibly located under the parking lot next to the cemetery.