Luck: Survivors

This week’s #52Ancestors prompt is “luck”. With the recent coronavirus outbreak, I have been pondering the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic and how some of our ancestors survived that, and how some did not. My Colomy family seemed to be the lucky ones in having survived that epidemic. Indeed, if Bertha (Colomy) (French) Spratt was stricken and did not survive, she never would have met my great-grandfather George Edmund Pleau and had their son, my paternal grandfather! And of course, these words would not be written.

The Colomy’s were not unscathed by the epidemic, however. Like many others affected by the flu, Eleanor M. Colomy, Edwin’s second wife, contracted pneumonia and died on December 11, 1918, only three days after the doctor started tending to her. Just over a year later on December 28, 1919, Bertha’s second husband James Spratt also passed away from pneumonia, with “lagrippe” (the flu) being a contributory cause. Sandwiched between these two deaths, Edwin and Bertha’s father Frank’s second wife Ida died on June 1, 1919 of pyonephrosis (a kidney infection).

One death after another in the Colomy family. Courtesy FamilySearch.

What a devastating year the Colomy family had! I have to wonder if this drew the family closer together, or if perhaps each may have been too emotionally spent by their own grief to comfort each other.

Strong Woman: My Fille du Roi

Continuing with #52Ancestors this week’s theme is “Strong Woman”. I think one of the best representations of strong women is the Filles du Roi, who I first heard about in 2014 on the Maples Stars and Stripes podcast. The Filles du Roi were marriageable women who were recruited by the French government under King Louis XIV to travel to New France (today’s Quebec), marry in the male-dominated colony and start families. Growing the colony’s population from within, if you will.

The strength of the filles lay in their willingness to travel on their own to an unknown world, to face an unknown culture and to make the radical decision of who to marry during a time when that decision was often made for them. Then they would have to go about the business of raising a family without their family network around them. Yet, the eight hundred filles did all that and helped roots to be put down in New France.

When I first heard about the Filles du Roi, I wished I’d be able to find one in my own family tree, but was unable. However, thanks to Rob Gumlaw, an active participant of #genchat who also happens to be the President of the American-French Genealogical Society, I now have my very own fille! Just before #genchat’s discussion on the Filles du Roi last September, I received documentation in the mail from Rob, proving my connection to Louise Gargottin, who arrived in June 1663 with the first contingent of the Filles du Roi!

I’m a descendant of the Filles du Roi! Author’s collection.

I’ve documented most of the generations here in this blogpost, so we’ll pick up where I left off in this post with the marriage of Francois-Ignace Pleau dit lafleur to Marie-Madeleine Gaudin (aka Godin) on February 4, 1722:

  • Marie-Madeleine was the daughter of Charles Godin and Marie-Madeleine Perron, who were married on October 17, 1689.
  • That Marie-Madeleine was the daughter of Daniel Perron dit Suire and Louise Gargottin, who married on February 26, 1664.

A quick investigation revealed the following about Louise:

  • born in 1637 in La Jarne, La Rochelle, France to Jacques Gargottin and Francoise Bernard, who both seemed to be deceased before Louise’s immigration
  • arrived in New France on June 30, 1663 aboard Le Phoenix de Flessingue
  • married Daniel on February 26, 1664 at La Visitation-de-Notre-Dame, Chateau-Richer, Montemorency, New France
  • Daniel died in 1678, so Louise married again on January 7, 1679 to Charles Louis Alaine in L’Ange-Gardien, which was further along the St. Lawrence River
  • Louise died between February 7 and May 20, 1704

I still have so much to learn about Louise, and am grateful for her being part of my family tree! Another thanks to Rob (who told me that we are cousins) for providing me with this wonderful information.