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Story


I write this story from the information contained in the "deGerlaisse-Desjarlais Genealogy". It is a French document that lists all of the archived Desjarlais ancestry including those that have gone into Eastern USA and Australia, and the list includes many in Western Canada. Updated information on this Web Page comes by way of the book "Histoire De Louiseville" 1665-1960, the book written by Germain Lesage, o.m.i. of the University of Ottawa, and also from inputs by Michelle Desjarlais of Louiseville,  avocate et rechersiste.
And please, while I weave this story from the visual impressions of what I've read while researching this genealogy, the story is froth with poetic licence.

The Desjarlais ancestry of Manitoba has been updated from the genealogy information acquired through the efforts of Larry Quinto, who is a fourth cousin once removed, I think that sounds so cool; and through his grandmother's side (Euphrosine Desjarlais), Larry resides in Ottawa. And key information on his site had been obtained from a colourful update sent in by Glen Desjarlais, son of Jules Desjarlais the singing cowboy from Winnipeg Manitoba. Thank you both.


On the 24 September 2004 I was invited to a diner honoring Lucien Desjarlais of Louiseville, along with the surviving members of the Desjarlais family of Louiseville. And during that reunion Michelle Desjarlais had given me a book on the "History of Louiseville', dating from 1665 to 1960. And what I had discovered in that book had opened my eyes with reference to the first pioneer of Louiseville, and that is to say, Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse. And what I had found interesting, and I include those side notes, while reading through those documents and while our ancestors had been laying down our roots in New France (Quebec) the history that we had studied in grade school was also unfolding,and in parallel and at the same time as our genealogy, so on with the story.


The Colonization of New France had begun with the exploration of this vast continent by the French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534. Jacques Cartier had been looking for a new route West, as had Henry Hudson, so I guess one could say that the discovery of Canada had been accidental.

Canada just happened to be on the route that those explorers had taken while they had explored that new passageway. And as I continue with our genealogy I will include notes that make reference to historic events of that time period and that had unfolded in parallel with the historic events of our ancestry.


Note:  Queen Elizabeth 1st daughter of the infamous King Henry Vlll had lived from 1533 to 1603.


During the time of Colonization 'Acadia' had formed a part of the Old French Colony. New France had spread over an immense territory and that must have been a source of inspiration for the new colonists, as it is for me today as I read about it. New France from 1609 to 1763 had included Quebec, Acadia, and the vast Louisiana Territory, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, and then west to the Rocky Mountains, and then had continued north to the Great Lakes area, which is almost the whole of continental USA, except for the Eastern seaboard.

 

Note:  Galileo Galilee the famous Italian astronomer that had invented the telescope had lived from 1564 to 1642.

 

Jacques Cartier to whom we give so much credit to the development of Quebec, had lived from 1491 to 1557. And that development had continued with Samuel de Champlain the French explorer that had founded Quebec City in 1608, and he had lived from 1567 to 1635.

 

Peter Paul Rubens the famous Flemish painter had lived from 1577 to 1640. He had painted those fat ladies, from which we have coined the term Rubenesque. And Hamlet, one of the most famous Shakespearean tragedies had been first printed in the year 1603.

 

When Jacques Cartier had first explored the Gulf of the mighty St. Lawrence in 1534, he had made first contact with the indigenous population. And in 1535 when Cartier had first arrived at a place very near what is now Quebec City, and that place had been the Indian Village of Stadacona. The Chief had been named Donnacona. And when Samuel de Champlain had returned in the year of 1608 the Indian settlement of Stadacona had vanished. And seeing that as an opportunity to establish a strategic foothold as well as a good site for development, Quebec, the walled city had been born. The walled city is still there today, it is known as the Citadel. And during the following years, New France had become a thriving community, with Frontenac as Governor, Jean Talon as Intendant, and Laval, as Bishop. An Intendant is nothing more then an administrator sort of like today's Mayors. And fraternization with the indigenous population had not been discouraged, and a lot of the men had run with the Indians of the surrounding area. That had meant that they had befriended the Indians and they had partied with them, and had enjoyed their women. Those men had become known as Coureur-de-bois, and that had been a slight to those men, an insult of sorts for trucking with savages, yet it had been those very men that had discovered the lucrative fur trade. That term 'Coureur-de-bois' had been translated by the British as 'Runners-of-the-woods', but it hadn't been the woods that the Frenchman had been running after, it had been the Indian women, and had nothing to do with the woods, stupid Anglais, he he!

And rapidly the fur trade had become very important and had soon been New Frances only source of revenue. And this bounty had lasted quite a few years until the British had snuck in the back door through Hudson's Bay, and they had eventually infiltrated New France. The Brits and the French homeland had been engaged in a continuing war, and that influence had carried over into New France. And that had resulted in skirmishes between the French and the English and lives had been lost.


Before I continue, historically speaking the exploitation of New France had begun as a private venture, but that had changed to a Royal decree in 1663.


And in the year of 1642, just one year before Jean-Jacquet had been born, a courageous band of settlers, Nuns and soldiers, had pushed their way upriver to the island with the volcanic cone. The place is known as Mount Royal, and it was there that those courageous people had built their little fort, and on the slope of that hill. And despite several Iroquois attacks the settlement had grown into the small fur-trading town of Ville Marie, which would later become the Cosmopolitan City of Montreal. The locale in Montreal center today, that is known as Place D'Armes, had been a battlefield in 1644.

 

Note:  In 1644 had been born a man who would make violins a work of art and precision. Antonnéo Stradivarius had lived from 1644 to 1737.

 

It isn't difficult to picture the life of the early colonists, it had been a very hard and difficult life. So why had they come? What had convinced those that had opted to leave a civilized lifestyle behind and travel to a far away land, when nothing had been certain except the uncertainty and danger of living in a savage country? Think of it, they had left their families and friends behind, forever, at least that is what I had thought in the beginning of researching this story? So, what had it been that had lured them into the unknown? Had it been the promise of land, the promise of riches, or something as simple as a new start in life? Or had they been forced or coerced? Coming to New France could have been the way of repaying a debt I suppose, and staying out of debtors prison? Why do I say that? I say that because of information I found this June 2003. I was surprised to read archives relating to the departure of colonists, and that not all of those French Colonists had chosen to remain in New France. In fact many had returned to their homeland. And I had always thought that once here, as in New France, that the colonists had been here to stay, but I had erred in my assumption.


And boatloads of French Colonists had returned to France after having served out their term. That happened because when the French had begun the exploitation of this great country that had not meant that they had originally considered permanent residence here. And although many had chosen to remain in New France it had been their choice, and France didn't care one way or the other.


The exploration and exploitation of New France had begun by the One-Hundred Associates, businessmen who's only interest had been to make a profit. That would explain why our numbers had been so low when compared to those of the British. And our inferior numbers had led to our eventual downfall; anyway, on with the story.


The change of lifestyles for the colonists to adapt to had been drastic. Even the trip across the Atlantic Ocean had not been without peril, and some new colonists had died onboard and had been buried at sea.

 

Note:   In 1610 a man named Henry Hudson while exploring for a new passage to China had instead discovered Hudsons Bay. He died there trapped by the cold weather after his crew had mutinied, which had been his claim to fame.

 

And when Jean-Jacquet had arrived in New France it hadn't been long before he too had discovered that the winters in France and Belgium had been nothing compared to the winters of New France. And for some the winters had been too cold and too long, and many had died. They had to put up with the cold of the winter and the scarcity of food, and the occasional and continuing skirmishes with the Indians. And because of the cold and isolation the Habitants as they were called, had wintered within the built up areas, be it Sorel or Quebec City, for example, because the life on the Seigniorial had been too difficult during the cold winter months. Sounds like it had been anything but a picnic?


The year is 1665, and Jean-Jacquet has arrived. And during the next two years and during the quiet times, he would work the farm with his host family and till the fields, for the Regiment's diner table. But he had also been part of the support staff within the Carignan-Salieres Regiment. He, like many of the other support soldiers had been housed within local families, to provide the needed security within the Seigniorial, but when not otherwise engaged they had helped around the farm. This hadn't been anything new to Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse because he had grown up within the Seigneurie des Hameteaux, where his father had been the Seigneur.

 

Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse was born in St. Paul-de-Liege, Belgium, in 1643. He was the son of Ferdinand deGerlaisse, "Seigneur des Hameteaux" and his mother the beautiful Dorothée Cona. This paragraph reveals that Jean-Jacquet's father had been a feudal lord or a landowner in French Belgium. Most of the country of Belgium had been under the French Monarchy, and St. Paul-de-Liege had been a Principality. And while much of Europe and France and including Belgium had been war torn during the 16th and 17th Centuries, St. Paul-de-Liege had been spared occupation and the ravages of war because it had been the Ecclesiastical Seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and home to the Prince-Bishops.

It is interesting to note that Jean-Jacquet had already been 'Sieur de St. Amant' when he had left Belgium, a title that he did not retain here, however, yet that title had forever been included within his coordinates, as in Jean-Jacquet ... dit St. Amant, and in some other official documents retrieved his name is written Sieur deGerlaisse or Sieur de St. Amant.


So, I continue; the son follows in the footsteps of his father up to a point. It is no secret that wars had plagued the better part of Belgium during the 16th and 17th century. So at the age of nineteen Jean-Jacquet had joined the Carignan Regiment. He could not hold the rank of an officer because he had not been of traditional Noble birth. And later, when the Carignan-Salieres Regiment had disbanded in 1667, land had been promised to those soldiers that would agree to remain in New France. And Jean-Jacquet plus 300 of his comrades at arms had remained.

And shortly thereafter he had entered into discussion with his host, a man named Jean Trudel, who incidentally had been married to a lady of Belgium ancestry. And together they had arrived at an agreement, and with that decision made Jean-Jacquet had signed a marriage contract. Jean-Jacquet's future wife to be was Jeanne Trudel, who had been eleven years old at the time of the signing. Wow, that had blown me away. But it was the times, and the way things were done. She had been the picture of beauty and innocence. Born in 1656 Jeanne Trudel had been twelve years old at the time of their union. They had married at, 'La parroise of L'Ange Guardien' near Lac Beauport, Northeast of Quebec City.

The lovely Jeanne Trudel, had been the daughter of Jean Trudel and Marguerite Thomas, de la Paroisse de L'Ange Guardian. And marriages during those times had been pre-arranged, and marriage contracts had been signed, and Dowries had been assigned to seal the deal. 

And during their first year of marriage and as so stipulated within the marriage contract; they had lived with her parents. I doubt that they had even slept together, in fact I'm certain they hadn't, at least not the first years. 

Jean-Jacquet had accompanied the ex-soldiers of the Regiment that had remained, to guard the Seigniorial, and had been away from home a lot I imagine.


And I have done the calculations. Jeanne had her first child at the tender age of seventeen in 1673, and Jean-Jacquet had been thirty years old at the time. That year, 1673, had been pivitol in the life of Jean-Jacquet. What had remained of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment had long since fragmented, and in its stead had formed several small Militia units, and each one assigned to a particular Seigneury. And 1673 is also the year of their first born, Catherine, and it is also the year that Jean-Jacquet had signed up with the 'Militia', and that just happens to coincides with the year that his lease had been finally approved.


As a footnote, three years after Jean-Jacquet had married, Raddisson and Grosseilliers had founded the Hudson's Bay fur trading Company. Now you must remember the times, it had been the English against the French every step of the way. And although that move had been precipitated because Raddisson and Grosseilliers had been snubbed by the French colonists, and worst, by their homeland of France, but had that been reason enough for that traitorous act? They had been French had they not? So how the hell could they have gone over to the British? I sometimes wonder what Jean-Jacquet had thought of that? I mean really, what was the world coming to?

And as history shows, on the 12 Aug 1673 the deal is sealed and with that investment Jean-Jacquet had become Louiseville's first colonist. His farm lease of seven years, closed, had been drawn up the 27th July.That lease had been drawn up by Messire Francois Dollier de Casson and had been signed by Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse dit St. Amant... habitant de la Riviere-du-loup seigneurie de Maneruille, 12th August 1674.


And I have driven through the area, and visited Sorel and Trois-Rivieres, and while I had driven through Louiseville the migrating Canada geese had covered the neighboring fields. The migrating ducks and geese always stop in those fields, and I was wondering if they had during that time, three centuries earlier? There had been so many geese, enough to feed the whole of the French settlements of the 17th century and more. It had been an awesome sight.


But during the 1670s the Hudson's Bay fur trading Company drew away some of the fur trade that had formerly gone exclusively to the St. Lawrence. And because of that skirmishes between the French and the English had escalated. And those small battles had been a part of the greater struggle, that is to say, the war between the parent countries of France and England.

And by the middle of the 17th century there had been a mere 25000 French colonists as compared to the 80,000 British.


And during this point in history, the Western portion of this great land had still belonged to the North American Indian. But that is also a misnomer, because the North American Indian had not staked a claim to land. They had considered the land as being free and without boundaries. And they had thought nothing of following the great buffalo herds as far south, and into what is now Montana and onwards to New Mexico. And true to their heritage the Plains Indians had been nomads. But with the arrival of the British and the founding of the Hudson's Bay fur trading company, a vast western portion of western Canada would eventually fall under HBC control.


The political upheaval of the times and the uncertainty that accompanies political instability does not deter Jean-Jacquet from his path. He remains a determined worker of the soil.

The lucrative fur trade which had always been at the forefront, had remained New Frances main source of revenue, but a thorn in her side. New France had needed the land and the farms to provide stability for a growing community, but it had also liked the easy money that the fur trade had provided.

The fur trade had never appealed to Jean-Jacquet, he had loved the land, it had been stable and he could see the fruit of his labor. And he had been very successful at his job. And a public notary, Me. Adhemar establishes his worth in a balancing of the books between he and Joachim Germano, the 2nd September 1680.

And at the time Jean-Jacquet had been thirty-eight years old and had been the owner of six bovines and twelve acres of valuable land.


And as I had written these passages I had tried to envision Jean-Jacquet, what had he looked like? Had he been tall and thin with an athletic body. He had been part of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment, and that regiment had boasted its members as being big and strong? Did he smoke or chew tobacco?

And being from Belgium, and having lived within the very modern and beautiful City of St. Paul-de-Liege, I would think that Jean-Jacquet was most probably educated. In fact, within a passage of the Book "Histoire De Louiseville", it is mentioned that Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse had been of the 'Bourgeoisie, and somewhat educated ... which seems somewhat like a backhanded compliment. 

I wonder, did he know Raddisson and Grosseilliers, had he ever seen them? He had most certainly known or heard of them because of the importance that their going over to the British camp had, and by all appearances they had been very high profile individuals.


So, as I sit here in the comfort of my home in front of my PC and writing this, the TV set plays in the background. And my two toy poodles are on the couch, I think they are sleeping. And I try to imagine this individual, and I try to imagine what it's like where he is sitting? He had sat in the middle of the destruction of all that it had meant to settle down under the French flag, and had been unable to stop what had been happening around him, and surely had been frustrated at the thought of an eventual capitulation. That had to be frustrating? 

The small battles had been going on all around him. Louiseville is not that far from the settlement of Ville Marie. And Ville Marie has grown into the City of Montreal. And there had been another murderous Iroquois uprising in 1689 with the massacre of Lachine.

 

And I surmise through the reading of our family tree that we are the descendants of humble ancestry, no Nobility and no Aristocracy, and certainly no Royalty. We are the products of an adventurous parentage, at least I think so. Our forefathers had been brave enough to dream the dream, and had been brave enough to accept the change that the dream had demanded of them. Think of it! The colonists had left an already established and civilized lifestyle, where one could go to the corner store for a loaf of bread, and then they had embarked upon a camping trip that would last for the rest of their lives. When they had chosen to come over to New France, survival had meant doing everything, just in order to survive from one day to the next. There hadn't been any luxuries.

It is near impossible to imagine what it had been like back then. I have gone, and I have visited Louiseville to try to get a feel for the place, but I hadn't been able. The place looks like many of the small farming communities. It is very pretty and situated on the St. Lawrence River, so is actually a picturesque town. I had visited the magnificent Church and the lonely cemetery, and I had walked along the river, the same river that Jean-Jacquet had walked, I saw his land, and the same river that had claimed the lives of two of his granddaughters, Catherine and Marie-Therese, so long ago. I tried, but I couldn't feel it or taste it, and the total immersion of that environment of that time past, had escaped me. It had only been later as I had written this historic that they had come to life.

And on that land today, is erected a cross with the year 1665 attached, showing where the first chapel had been built, and on his land. And interestingly within the book 'Histoire de Louiseville', a map shows the placements of the farms, and it has Jean-Jacquet's name inscribed on two plots of land. One of those plots was his, the one where the chapel had been built, while the other plot had belonged to his son Jean-Francois. His son Antoine had also farmed, and his land had been nearer his fathers.


Live the sweltering hot humid summers, where sleep evades you at night because of the suffocating heat. And experience the freezing cold winters and the cold arctic air that whips off the St. Lawrence and cuts through your warmest clothes and whips your face, bringing tears to your eyes, tears which instantly freeze. And at night, at home, the only place to keep warm is under the covers while you listen to the howling wind outside. And when you sit down and eat during the winter months, you ration your food, or later you may go hungry. And just before the winter set in, they would hunt and trap rabbits and clean and hang them in a cold room outside, safe from vermin, to tide them over through winter. Summer, only fresh food because they hadn't any refrigeration.

Ah the nice warm bed, but you have to get up, no matter what, that's what it meant when you worked the land. It meant getting up at the crack of dawn and seeing your breath as you had struggled to get a fire going to warm up the house.

Jean-Jacquet has a horse named 'Maggie' now so he has to go out to the barn and feed her. The barn is small with low ceilings and tight stalls. It had earth piled around the outer walls and on the roof for insulation from the harsh winter. It is warm in there, and from the animals breath it is humid. His cattle have also to be fed and watered, and he has to milk the cows. He has to clean the stalls and lay down new straw for bedding for his animals; these animals are his lifelines.

He finishes his morning chores and heads for the house, he hasn't even eaten yet but he knows that Jeanne has a hot coffee and breakfast waiting for him. It is still dark as he exits the barn and he rubs his hands together blowing warm air over them, then he closes the barn door and heads for the house.

Ya gotta love him!

 

And all the things that we take for granted today, such as aspirin and penicillin did not exist in Jean-Jacquet's day. Colonists often died because they had lacked proper medical care and often the very young had not been strong enough to fight the ravages of disease. Smallpox, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, chicken pox, and the mumps had been common maladies but sometimes they had proved fatal. Dehydration caused by dysentery had claimed many young children, as had whooping cough. Something as benign as appendicitis was most often fatal. Dental hygiene had not been a big concern and rotten teeth had been a common thing and a part of everyday life. Listen to this, it is something that I have just recently learned, and quite by accident. If you look at photos of the people of that time, none of them are smiling.


And consequently, the white man's disease that had followed them to the new world had spread to the people of the First nations, and in some cases had almost decimated certain tribes. The tribes had been small, kept small because it had been easier to feed a small group. And within certain areas, those small groups had lived within sight of each other, for strength against attack; there is strength in numbers.

 

   Note:   And while history is unfolding for our ancestors Johann Sebastian Bach had lived 1685- 1750.

 

During colonization the French had tried to stimulate growth of the population by encouraging large families. Jean Talon had rewarded those who had married young and those that had large families. The others had been penalized, those that had remained single had been taxed.

Le Comte Louis de Buade de Frontenac had begun his second mandate in 1689, the year of the Lachine massacre and also the moment that England had declared war on France.


In Canada the English had vastly outnumbered the French and in 1690 when the British had approached Frontenac to capitulate, from his bastion in Quebec he had answered with that now famous phrase, "You will get your answer through the mouths of my canons". Well, if not realistic, it had sounded good?

 

Jean-Jacquet de Gerlaisse had been very successful as a 'Habitant' and on the 6th May 1690 he and his beautiful wife Jeanne formally recognized that her father had fulfilled their wedding dowry as promised. Do you understand the implication of that statement? What that means is that no matter how divorced they had been as Colonists and from the parent country of France, they had taken with them the values and traditions that they had grown up with. I have found no mention what that Dowry had been, but one can imagine that it had been financial aid, plus some farm animals?

It is true that the colonists had very large families, that had been encourage by Talon and the Church. If ones wife hadn't always been pregnant the Parish Priest had wanted to know why? It is also true that the children had all helped around the farm. They had done chores, they fed the chickens and cleaned the house. They had done the laundry and set the table, and washed the dishes afterwards and they even made the beds. And on Sunday, after mass the children had gathered all the adults shoes and had shined them with shoe polish. The older children of the family had taken care of the younger. And as the children grew older the clergy had looked after schooling, and in most instances the Nuns had taught school. Schools of that milieu rarely went any higher then grade four for the simple reason that it had not been necessary. Besides, education had been for the aristocrats.

In many ways the life of the Colonists had not been much different from today. After the days work is done we all take our pants off one leg at a time. We suffer the same losses today that they had then. We say that the death of a family member is never easy to bear but when that death is that of a child it is the worst death. Parents are supposed to die first. And when our children are taken away, and most often brutally, it is hell.

 

Our first family had lost three of their precious children. They had lost their first-born; a girl named Catherine aged ten. That is just when we are finally getting to know them, ten is not old. Jeanne's second child a boy named Pierre had only lived four months. She had still been nursing the little angel when he had died. Jean-Jacquet had baptized two of his girls Marie-Josephte; the first had lived for less then a month. How could they have coped with the loss of their children?

How could a young mother and wife still manage to hold the family together, to clean house, cook the meals and comfort the children, to mourn, to cry, and ask why?

 

It becomes obvious to me that for the Colonists to survive had taken a great degree of community spirit. Whenever someone suffered a loss or illness they had all pulled together, because the family ties had been very close. Jeanne and Jean-Jacquet mourn the loss of their babies, they buried them and had continued on with life. They certainly did not have it easy, none of the first colonists had, but they did their best.


And you know what, we are the living proof of their success.

When I had first begun writing this genealogy our ancestors had been complete strangers, only so many names on a piece of paper with the dates when they had lived and died.

They had not been alive, and I know that sounds like an odd thing to say but its true. And today I feel a kinship since I have given them life, so to speak, and my heart goes out to them. Jean-Jacquet and Jeanne had managed to raise a loving family of ten beautiful children in less then perfect circumstance, and now I realize a connection. Now I realize that we are part of that family. Their blood flows through our veins.


But things go downhill. And with each declaration of war by the Sovereign Nations, the repercussions had been felt in Canada. And in 1713, and by the Treaty of Utrecht, France had conceded Detroit, Hudson's Bay, Acadia and Newfoundland.

 

Note:   In 1756 had been born what would become the phenomenal Austrian music composer by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Amadeus signifies aimé de Dieu, Loved by God. This child prodigy had written his first Overture at the age of six. He had died December 5th 1791 and he was only 35 years old.

 

And finally with the deportation of the Loyal French subjects (Acadians) in 1755 the bell had tolled, signalling a prelude to the end. The conquest of Canada, which had been buried under the struggle of the fur trade, had finally known its conclusion. And what Jean-Jacquet had been afraid of had finally happened, after Quebec had been taken in battle. He hadn't seen that of course, it had been after his time. And New France had become British by the Treaty of 1763.


Canada, which had been basically Quebec, had been allowed to keep its boundaries, its French language, and its freedom of worship, its education system and its civil code. And at the signing of the Capitulation of Quebec, which had taken place shortly after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and those concessions aforementioned had been considered generous by both sides. And for that generous consideration the French had proved loyal when British revolutionary forces from the south had captured Montreal in 1755 and had attempted to take Quebec.

The British-American Revolution, which had begun in 1755 had lasted until 1783. 


As a footnote, built near the Plains of Abraham and covering seven acres, can be found the Ursaline Convent founded in 1639. It is certainly amongst the oldest educational institutions for girls on the continent. Within its Chapel it holds in reverence the skull of the fallen General Montcalm.

 

Note: Around this time had been born another famous composer by the name of Ludwig Van Beethoven, renowned German Composer that had lived 1770-1827. 

 

I think it is appropriate to note that an Indian Chief by the name of Pontiac had led an uprising against the British because he had supported the French. That unsuccessful uprising had lasted from 1763 till 1766, but it had been too little too late.


But throughout it all Jean-Jacquet and his wife had a very good life. They had been together many years and their happiness had made their hardships seem bearable. They had many Christmas parties and many happy birthdays. The children had learned to play the fiddle like their father, and together they had sang the lusty French songs of the times at family parties and accompanied by the accordion. They had brought up their family well, they had regularly attended church and when they couldn't they had knelt around the kitchen table and had said their prayers. They had worked the land and had taken the time to smell the flowers and they had prospered, and so had their community. Then when the Clergy had decided that the community had needed a Chapel they had approached Jean-Jacquet.

So on the 11th September 1711 Jean-Jacquet had been obliged to give up a parcel of his land to the construction of the Chapel. For the portion of land that he had willingly given up he had been given one hundred pounds. He had also been granted the privilege of having his family seated at the front of the church in a pew reserved in his and his children s names.

Jean-Jacquet de Gerlaisse and his wife Jeanne Trudel are the first of the Desjarlais ancestors on this continent and have the privilege of beginning the story of our lineage. Our ancestry continues through his son baptized Jean-François.

 

From the union of Jean-Jacquet de Gerlaisse and the lovely Jeanne Trudel are born ten beautiful children. They are listed below.

 

1.  Catherine           B 14 April 1673

                                 Baptised  23 April 1673, L'Ange Guardien

                                 Died 28 May  1683  Sorel

 

2.  Pierre                 B  26 Sep 1677  Sorel

                                Died 14 Jan 1678 

 

 

3.  Madeline            B 01 Jan  1679   Sorel 

                                  (Unknown)     

 

4.  Jeanne               B  Dec 1679 St.François-du-Lac

                                Married   20 Aug 1705 Trois-Rivieres,

                                to Pierre Benoit, Sieur de la Forest,

                                     son of,

                                Gabriel Benoit and Anne-Marie Guédon

                                      Died       25  Nov  1771

 

5.  Marguerite         Born   (Unknown)

                                 Married 1704  Trois-Rivieres, to

                                 Pierre Lamirante, Sieur de Lignon,

                                      son of;                                

                                 Jean Lamirante Sieur de Papineau

                                 and MarieTestard  

 

6.  Marie-Josephte  Born 16 Nov 1689 Trois- Rivieres

                                  Died Dec  1689

 

7.  Marie-Josephte  Born  Oct  1690

                                  Married    25 May 1709, to

                                  Jean-Baptiste Lesage, son of

                                  Jean Lesage and Marguerite Roussel

                                   Died     12 May 1768 Louiseville

 

 8.  Antoine               Born  (Unknown)

                                  Married 25 May 1709 Trois-Rivieres,

                                  to Marie-Angelique Pelletier, veuve de 

                                  François Banhiac, and daughter of,

                                  François Pelletier and Marguerite-

                                  Madeline Morrisseau (No children)

 

9.  Marie-Ann           Born  19 Mar 1698 St. Anne-de-la-Perade

                                  Married   04  Mar  1714, to

                                  Jean Brissard, son of

                                  François Brissard and Marie Bernard

 

10.* Jean-François, Baptised   02 Jun 1699

 

 

The son that continues the branch of our lineage is Jean-François. He had been the last of the ten children and is most pivotal, because he had been the one that had continued the family name. His mother Jeanne had been forty-three at the time of his birth and she had survived another thirty-five years.


And even before Jean-François had learned to walk his parents had already noticed how quick and smart he had been. All through his growing years he had shown maturity beyond his years. As a very little tyke Jean-François would follow his older brother Antoine and his father into the field. He would get up early so that he could help his father milk the cows. He loved to play in the barn and be around the farm animals, he used to talk to them affectionately. Jean-Francois had indeed been different. For starters he had been the only one in the family that had green eyes, everyone else in the family like their mother and father had brown eyes. Jean-Jacquet had said that he had his mother's eyes, those of Dorothee Cona. And Jean-Francois seemed to know things; he had that uncanny common sense and knowledge of an old soul. And by the time he had been seven years old his father had noticed how fastidious he had been. By the time he had reached his tenth birthday he had already been helping his father without ever being asked.

Jean-Jacquet had been amazed by the work ethics of his young son, and it hadn't gone unnoticed within the community. And he and his father had become very close as he was growing up, almost conspiratorial, and one day he had confided in his father that he too would have a farm just like his, one day.

Jean-Jacquet and his wife Jeanne are very proud of little Jean-François and with their help le Seigneur Trottier-de-Beaubien of Riviere-du-Loup (Louiseville) had put aside a parcel of land in Jean-François' name, he was twelve years old at the time. Can you believe it at the age of twelve Jean-François has his own land?

And this parcel of land incurs a rent. Jean-François' land is five acres wide by twenty acres deep. The rent is, and I quote 'three Francs plus un sols de cens et deux chapons de vingt sols faisant un total de cent un sols de redevance par année'. Okay, I have no idea what that amounts to, it is obviously old form measurements of the French Feudal system.

And have you noticed the errors in writing; I copied them verbatim, as is, from the archive.

 

I would think that Jean-Jacquet had probably counter-signed the lease, it makes sense, I mean the boy was twelve right? And that possibility would explain why the two land tracts on the old map of the seignorial had been both listed under his name. And by today's standards this venture seems inconceivable, but in the 18th Century who knows? Perhaps twelve years old then had been considered the difference between an adolescent and an adult? I mean Jean-Jacquet's wife had been twelve when they had married? Twelve then had probably been the equivalent to what eighteen years of age is today?

And because we know that Jean-Fançois had the land and we also know that the land had been without a cabin or a barn and certainly without livestock. I would have to surmise that Jean-Jacquet had supplied the much-needed equipment to get the land going so that it could eventually pay for itself. So probably with the help of family and neighbors they had built the cabin and the barn on the land and helped Jean-Francois break ground as they had harrowed and tilled the field, clearing away the tree stumps and boulders. I still have trouble accepting that a twelve-year-old boy could own land and make it pay the rent, and even better the land had made a profit. Obviously Jean-François had not been an ordinary boy, as Jean-Jacquet had noticed of him at a very young age, it kind of makes you proud.


During the first five years Jean-François had farmed his land he had lived at his fathers home and the family had combined their efforts on both parcels of land. They had finished the small utility shed that had been erected to shelter some farm equipment, but its main purpose had been to shelter the cords of wood that he would later store there to heat the future house that he would live in, and burn in the stove for meals. They had finally built a barn and Jean-Jacquet had given his son two bovine to begin a herd of his own. And for seven years Jean-Francois had worked hard and saved his money, paying back his father whenever he could for the generosity that he had shown him over the years.

Jean-Francois wears a straw hat in the fields and he had just bought a new pair of work boots that he had bought with his own money. He smokes a pipe in the fields; he had tried chewing tobacco but hadn't liked the way that it had colored his teeth, and he had swallowed the black juice once and it had made him puke.


Then one day shortly after Jean-François had turned nineteen he and his father had begun to build the cabin that would be his future home. They had only finished the framework and the outer walls and the roof, the rest could be finished at their leisure. And during those years the community had become more and more populated and civilized. The colonists had become self sufficient and self sustaining. The large families had accorded them a large reservoir of potential future wives and husbands. Marriages had still been pre-arranged in most instances, but many prospective husbands find their own future wives within the community. And it had been with that new attitude that Jean-Jacquet had spoken to Jean-Francois. One day his father suggested that it was time that he should think about getting married and raise a family of his own to, which Jean-François says, what?

You know something, I have not had any trouble identifying with Jean-François at all, and I can hear him as clear as a bell as he washes his hands and face for supper and he looks up at his father, his face still dripping water. Where am I going to find the time Dad? When I get finished with my days work I just feel like taking it easy and lay down and rest? And Jean-Jacquet had looked over at his wife and had winked as he had answered, son it's more fun to lie down and rest with a good woman.

And so Jean-Jacquet had planted the seed, and one day while Jean-Francois was at the Sunday community picnic he had spotted the girl of his dreams. You must realize that Jean-Francois had been one of the most eligible and sought after bachelors within the community. He could have had the pick of the crop. But on that day a women had caught his eye. She had been in the company of one of his cousins so he had gone over and had introduced himself. Alas, she had only been visiting and after the dance he had learned that she had gone. She had lived near Quebec City. But he has fallen in love, and so like all the deGerlaisse men, he had pursued the girl of his dreams until she had caught him.


But in the beginning Jean-Jacquet had been dead against this union. He had wanted only the best for his son, and his idea of marrying a woman that had already been married once hadn't fit into his plans. But eventually the marriage had been arranged, and once Jean-Jacquet had met her, and to the

satisfaction of Jean-Francois, he had consented and had welcomed her into the family with open arms. She had been the beautiful Marie-Catherine Aubert. She had been the widow of Pierre Guyon and the daughter of François Aubert and Angelique Testu. Marie-Catherine had been bright eyed and had a remarkable intelligence about her, coupled with a quick wit and a sense of humor. She had that magic, that charisma, which had made Jean-François look much taller.


And so on the 23rd June 1719 and in Quebec City Jean-François had married the lovely Marie-Catherine Aubert and then they had resumed married life on the land that he had been farming for the past eight years.


Today, so many years after the colonization of the New World, we live in what has often been described as the land of plenty; a free world where one can live in peace and tranquility in land that had been originally populated by children of a lesser god. Take for example Australia; it had been populated with convicted felons straight out of the British dungeons with a complete disregard for the aboriginal people that had already lived there. We, of Canadian descent share the ancestries of similar circumstance, and although our forefathers for the most part had been honest people some had been from debtors prison and worst, and had not been of upper class, in an otherwise classless society. The first colonists had been working people. And that is what was needed in the beginning, to cut lumber and clean the fields of brush and boulders and begin tilling the land.

And earlier I had said that they had lived within a classless society, and for the most part that had been true. There had been Royalty and Nobility, then the masses, and whom had been referred to as peasants ... that is, until the birth of the "Bourgeoises" and what had been referred to as the emerging Middle class.


And in the very beginning only men had been sent to colonize the new land and once the colony had been deemed suitable France had sent boatloads of women as prospective wives. Those women had been known as, les filles du Roi. They had been orphans mostly, perhaps a few had been prostitutes, and in essence those girls had been without parents and a Dot, (Dowry) and thusly without a future in France. A young French

maiden of that period without a dowry had been deemed unmarrieable.

Those girls had arrived in New France and been boarded in a special home, and there had been familiarized with the hardships and dangers of colonization and had been taught what had been necessary for survival, as the lady of the house. That program had begun in 1663 and had lasted until 1673, and it is credited with contributing greatly to the successful population of Quebec.


And today, as we sit in the comfort of our homes within this land of plenty we see that colonization has worked. In many ways the North American Continent has surpassed the parent countries from which they had begun. And if colonization hadn't taken place, would this land still be barren land with herds of roaming buffalo and scattered bands of nomadic Indians?


Throughout the span of Jean-François and Marie-Catherine's life they had lived and loved through the good times and the bad. They had worked hard at raising a good family and had succeeded. Two of his sons, Antoine and Jean-Francois would follow in his footsteps and own land within the same Seignorial. Antoine had married, but hadn't any children.

Jean-Jacquet's family had attended church regularly and had sat right up front in their reserved pews. Just that little inconsequential thing, had placed the deGerlaisse within a certain class within the community, and it had made them proud of whom they were, they had not been haughty, but they had been the deGerlaisse and the church had been built upon their land.

And sadly, and just three years after Jean-François had married, his beloved father Jean-Jacquet had passed away. He and his father had been very close. He had taken his fathers death very hard.

And I pause for a moment in loving memory of Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse; loving husband of Jeanne Trudel. He leaves his wife and children, Madeline, Jeanne, Pierre Benoit, Marguerite, Pierre Lamirante, Marie-Josephte, Jean-Baptiste, Antoine, and Marie Angelique Pelletier, Marie-Anne, Jean Brissard, Jean-François, Marie-Catherine. He was loved by all and will be missed.


Died 10 December 1722 and was buried in Louiseville,RDL.

He was 79.


On the diagram below, the positions of the land tracts owned by Jean-Jacquet and Jean-Francois are both listed under Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse name. The land owned by Jean-Jacquet, and where the Chapel had been built is the land at the bottom right. An iron cross is erected on that property, where the Chapel had been built. There is also a sign in the field where the Old Fort had been. I have also inserted a diagram under the chapter Jean-Francois. It depicts the land tracts after Jean-Jacquet had passed away. On the diagram below, is written Lac St. Pierre. That is actually a portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway that bulges out, and it is not a land locked lake.

 

 

Diagram appears in the Book-History of Louiseville
cartecadestral.jpg
The Farm plots, and names from date on map

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