Third Great-Grandfather Edouard Pleau

I have not yet been able to find Edouard Pleau’s christening record, so I don’t have conclusive evidence of his birth date. However, census records indicate that he was born around 1812-1813. My guess is that he was born in or near Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (although I saw one unsourced place online that said he was born in Berthier). As best as I can tell, he was the fifth of the six children of Joseph Pleau and Marguerite Proulx, the fifth son and the second Edouard! If he wasn’t born in Trois-Rivieres, the family did eventually live there by the time he was an adult.

Trois Rivieres, probably when the Pleaus lived there. From The New York Public Library. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-222c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Edouard married Julie LaMothe (sometimes spelled Lamotte) on May 30, 1835 at Cathedrale de l’Assomption in Trois-Rivieres. He became a shopkeeper, but owned 76 acres, 46 of which were gardens and orchards. Perhaps he sold some of his own produce.

As best as I can tell, the children of Edouard and Julie were all born in Trois-Rivieres. They are:

  • Francois Edouard, born November 28, 1835; married Sophie Danfousse on February 13, 1860 at Notre Dame de Montreal (maybe this is the connection by which my great-great grandfather George met Emma LeClair?); married Marie Alphonsine Rebecca Gagne on September 2, 1884 at Cathedrale de l’Assomption; died May 24, 1916 in Trois-Rivieres; buried May 16 at Cathedrale de l’Assomption.
  • Antoine, born April 12, 1839; no record of him after 1871 – I think he may have immigrated to the United States, but have no records one way or another.
  • George, born October 1841, died December 9, 1842 in Trois-Rivieres; buried December 12 at Imaculee-Conception Church.
  • George, born August 2, 1843, who I wrote about here.
  • Jean Baptiste, born February 1846; married Marguerite Olivine Boucher on November 10, 1868 at Notre Dame de Montreal; died August 26, 1913; buried August 27 at St. Louis Cemetery.
  • Marie Julie, born April 7, 1849; married Jean Baptiste Micheline on January 14, 1872 at Cathedrale de l’Assomption.
  • Joseph Louis Philippe, born May 27, 1851; married Marie Louise Gagne on September 2, 1879; married Marie Anne Henriette Gerin-Lajoie on July 11, 1896 in Yamachiche, Quebec; married Claire Mathilde Durand on November 25, 1902 in Loretteville, Quebec; died January 4, 1930 in Loretteville.
  • Marie Flore, born on or before May 12, 1853; died April 12, 1869; buried April 13 at Notre Dame de Montreal.
  • Louis Edouard, born May 2, 1855; died May 14, 1855.

Edouard died on February 1, 1882 and was buried two days later on February 3 in the St. Louis Cemetery in Trois-Rivieres (as recorded in the church records of the Cathedrale de l’Assomption).

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Great-Great Grandparents George and Marie Emma E. (LeClair) Pleau

When I first started this blog, I began with the story of my great-grandfather George Edmund Pleau and continued with all his siblings. It’s high time that I return to that family line, starting with his parents.

I assume that my great-grandfather was named after his father, George Pleau (though I don’t know if my great-great grandfather had a middle name). George Pleau was born on August 2, 1843 in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. He was the fourth child and fourth son of Eduouard Pleau and Julie LaMothe (their third son was also named George, but died as a baby in December 1842). He was baptized at the Cathedrale de l’Assomption on the day of his birth. George grew up to be a shoemaker, which was his life-long occupation.

Marie Emma E. LeClair was born and baptized on February 18, 1849 in Montreal, Quebec. Her baptism was at Notre Dame de Montreal. Emma, as she was commonly called, was the daughter of Joseph LeClair and Marie Julie Charpentier and had at least one brother named Joseph Napoleon.

I have no idea how George and Emma could have met, but on November 27, 1866, they were married at her home church. In 1869 they made their move to Rochester, Monroe County, NY, where they proceeded to have their family:

  • Napoleon Charles (who went by Charles), born March 30, 1870 (click here for his story).
  • Cordelia, born January 1874 (click here for her story).
  • George Edmund, born December 27, 1875 (click here, here and here for his story).
  • Albert Joseph, born January 30, 1878 (click here, here, here and here for his story).
  • Eugene Jule, born February 19, 1881 (click here, here and here for his story).
  • Evelyn L, born February 1883 (click here for her story).
  • Ida, born 1885.
  • Ella Jane, born March 10, 1888 (click here for her story).
  • Lucy, born 1890 (click here for her and Ida’s story).

I do see that George was enumerated with his parents in the 1871 Canada Census (between Charles and Cordelia’s births), but I assume the stay was for a short time. He was in Rochester to stay, and the Pleau family lived at many addresses throughout the central Rochester area.

There seems to be a blip in George and Emma’s marriage: the 1892-1893 City Directories show them as living apart. For whatever reason they were separated, they were back together again for the remainder of their lives.

George’s live seemed pretty quiet, but I found Emma’s name in the newspaper a couple times: once in 1899 when she was representing their son Eugene in court after the train wreck he was in, and another time in 1913 when she wrote to the mayor of Lowell, MA via the newspaper The Lowell Sun, searching for her uncle John Savard, who she had been corresponding with. (This tells me that Emma was literate.)

As their children married (and sometimes re-married), George and Emma never had an empty nest; the family (particularly the sons) came and went, and George and Emma themselves spent their last years living with daughter Evelyn and her husband Charles. George died on September 13, 1914 and Emma on February 8, 1918. I can’t find any accounts of George’s funeral, but Emma’s was held at Our Lady of Victory Church, which (being French Catholic) I assume was their home church. Both are buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, where I was able to find their gravestones easily first online, then in person.

Found in Section M: George and Emma Pleau’s graves in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery! Author’s collection.

It was an amazing moment for me to stand at their graves, connecting with a family whose name I had but only recently had gotten to know them through my research.

Fourth Great-Grandparents William and Ann (Armstrong) Atwell: At the Corner of Bleury & Dorchester

As we go back further in time, the data on the Atwell family becomes less direct and more scant. The following is the best of my knowledge.

William Atwell was born around 1804 in England. Supposedly his father was also named William, who had a brother named Richard. According to Aunt Genie, this Richard lent money to my fourth great-grandfather to immigrate to Canada. There, William met Ann Armstrong (born circa 1807 in Canada) and married her on October 14, 1831 at the Holy Trinity Church Anglican Cathedral in Montreal, Quebec.

William and Ann had at least three children:

  • Richard, born February 9, 1833 (whose life I wrote about here).
  • William, born June 14, 1838 in Montreal and baptized on July 1, 1838 at Christ Church in Montreal. I have no other records naming him (I wonder if he may have immigrated to the US?).
  • Ann (or Anna) Jane, born June 3, 1841 in Montreal and baptized on June 8, 1841 in Memorial Trinity Anglican Church in Montreal. She immigrated to the US and ended up in Providence, Providence County, RI (claiming 1860 as her immigration date, though I can’t find her in US censuses until 1900). She never married and worked as a dressmaker (I wonder if she taught her niece Caroline this trade). Anna Jane died on September 2, 1903 in Providence and is buried in the same plot as her brother Richard at Oakland Cemetery in Cranston, Providence County, RI.

There may have been an additional child, for the 1842 Census indicates six people in William’s household; however, I have no other data as to who the sixth person might have been.

For as long as I can tell, William worked as a grocer on the corner of Bleury (now Park Avenue) and Dorchester (now Rene-Levesque Boulevard), and I assume the family lived in the same building. Today this busy intersection includes modern office buildings, so I have no idea how big the grocery store may have been.

Corner of Bleury & Dorchester today.  Courtesy Google Earth.

Corner of Bleury & Dorchester today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Ann died on November 12, 1850 and William followed on September 7, 1858. Both were buried in the graveyard of Christ Church in Montreal. I can’t seem to locate a graveyard at today’s Christ Church, so I don’t know if burials are underneath the church, have been reinterred, or if the church itself relocated when it was rebuilt in 1859.

Third Great-Grandparents Richard and Margaret (Patterson) Atwell

Richard Atwell was born on February 9, 1833, the oldest child of William Atwell and Ann Armstrong. He was most likely born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, although some later censuses say “English Canada” (implying Ontario). He was definitely christened in Montreal that February 17th at the Cathedrale Anglicane, with Robert and Martha Graham as his godparents.

Although Richard isn’t named in records until his marriage, he grew up with at least a younger brother (William) and sister (Ann Jane). He may have helped his father with his grocery business on the corner of Bleury and Dorchester streets.

Margaret Patterson was born around 1831 in Ireland. Much of my information about her comes from her daughter Victoria Eugenie’s (“Aunt Genie”) 1932 letter to my great-grandfather. Margaret’s parents were named Thomas and Margaret, and the family immigrated to Canada in 1841 on the Marchioness of Abercorn. They lived in Matilda, Ontario, Canada (which is now known as South Dundas).

I don’t have any idea how Richard and Margaret might have met. I believe that Margaret herself may have moved to Montreal (perhaps for work?), based on the fact that they were married at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church there on April 27, 1852. I assume that Margaret was the Presbyterian, since Richard had been christened in the Anglican church.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The earliest record of the Atwells living in the United States was the 1860 Census. Aunt Genie’s letter also states that they moved to the U.S. just that year. They were living in Lowell, Middlesex County, MA. There, Richard worked as a machinist and Margaret took care of baby William Armstrong, born on June 11 that year. To me, the eight years between their marriage and the birth of William seems like a really long time for a nineteenth-century couple to go childless. However, I cannot find any records of any previously-born children (yet).

On September 3, 1864, daughter Caroline L. was born. Some records refer to her as “Carrie”. According to Aunt Genie’s letter, Richard was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1867, so Margaret, by virtue of being married to him would have become a citizen as well.

The following year, the Atwell family moved to Ballard Vale, Essex County, MA (which is part of Andover today). This is where Aunt Genie, the youngest, was born that same year. If it weren’t for her letter, I never would have known that the family spent time in Essex County.

Aunt Genie related how the family moved in 1873 to Charleston, Suffolk County, MA, somewhere near the Bunker Hill Monument. They did not remain there long and moved to the Union Market area of Watertown, Middlesex County, MA. The Atwells moved again in 1874 to Taunton, Bristol County, MA. They stayed there for a while as Richard worked as a clerk in a foundry and machine company.

Finally the family moved to Providence, Providence County, RI in 1881, where William would meet his future wife, Altie May Williams. Although the family lived in various homes in Providence, Richard’s job situation was stable, as he worked as a shipping clerk for Brown & Sharpe for the rest of his life.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Margaret passed away on October 26, 1898, and Richard followed on June 27, 1902. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery, Cranston, Providence County, RI.

Caroline and Genie never married, but supported each other throughout their lives. Carrie was a home-based dressmaker and Genie, who started as a clerk, became a stenographer. Carrie died in 1927, but Genie lived much longer until January 9, 1940. Both are buried in the same plot as their parents on Oakland Cemetery.

Goodwins and Plaisteds: Colonial Maine Skirmishes

James Goodwin was lucky to be alive. He was fortunate to be born around 1711 in Berwick, Massachusetts Colony (now Maine), among the younger of Thomas Goodwin and Mehitable Plaisted’s children. He was blessed to find a wife in Margaret Wallingford, who was born circa 1716 in Dover, New Hampshire, to Thomas Wallingford and Margaret Clements. James and Margaret both lived good, long lives: James dying on May 10, 1800 and Margaret on February 20, 1803. Both lived to see the birth of their new country for which their son Jedidiah helped fight. What made James so lucky? It all began with the story of his parents, particularly his mother, Mehitable Plaisted.

Mehitable was born April 30, 1670 (old calendar) to Roger Plaisted and Olive Coleman. She was among the last of their many children. Roger and Olive, along with their firstborn, Roger, travelled from England around 1649, and settled in the Kittery area of the region of Maine (which eventually became Berwick). They soon became part of the growing colonial community. Where relations between the colonists and the local Waramaug natives started off on a friendly foot, things quickly deteriorated with misunderstandings and violence on both sides. Soon, what was known as “King Philip’s War” was underway, starting about June 1675 on many fronts throughout New England.

Mehitable was only five years old when her father and older brothers, Roger and Joseph, joined other area colonists in the military defense of their towns. Her father, Roger, was a lieutenant of the defense in the Kittery area. Early in the war, on October 16, 1675, Lieut. Plaisted and George Broughton sent a desperate plea to the surrounding communities for assistance as they saw their men being killed off by the natives. The Plaisted men became part of the casualties that very day.

from "King Philip's War" by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

from “King Philip’s War” by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

King Philip’s War lasted about three years until a peace treaty was signed. However the colonists were far from living peacefully with the natives. I’m sure the early communities in Maine were constantly vigilant against future troubles. In spite of that, life did go on. Olive Plaisted re-married to John Wincoll, who served as a stepfather to Roger’s children. Mehitable herself got married around 1685 to Thomas Goodwin, son of Daniel Goodwin and Margaret Spencer. They started their family with a baby boy.

When the baby was about five months old in the early winter months of 1690, the natives descended on the town; not to kill this time, but to capture. The entire family was taken, but Thomas was with a separate band of natives than his wife and child. Somehow, he was either released or managed to escape shortly thereafter. Mehitable and the baby were not as lucky. Their story is told dramatically in Cotton Mather’s Magnolia Christi Americana:

[The baby] which, through hunger and hardship, (she being unable to nourish it,) often made most grievous [cries]. Her Indian master told her, that if the child were not quiet he would soon dispose of it; which caused her to use all possible means that his Netop-ship might not be offended; and sometimes carry it from the fire out of his hearing, where she sat up to the waste [sic.] in snow and frost for several hours until it was lull’d asleep. She thus for several days preserved the life of her babe, until he saw cause to travel with his own cubs farther afield; and then, lest he should be retarded in his travel, he violently snatch’d the babe out of its mother’s arms, and before her face knock’d out its brains, and stript it of the few rags it had hitherto enjoy’d, and order’d her the task to go wash the bloody cloaths. Returning from this melancholy task, she found the infant hanging by the neck in a forked bough of a tree. Sho desired leave to lay it in the earth; but he said, “it was better as it was, for now the wild beasts would not come at it, … and she might have the comfort of seeing it again if ever they came that way. The journey now before then) was like to be very long, even as far as Canada, where his purpose was to make merchandise of his captive, and glad was the captive of such happy tidings. But the desperate length of the way, and want of food, and grief of mind wherewith she now encounter’d, caused her within a few days to faint under her difficulties. When at length she sat down for some repose, with many prayers and tears unto God for the salvation of her soul, she found herself unable to rise, until she espied her furious executioner coming towards her with fire in his eyes, the devil in his heart, and his hatchet in his hand, ready to bestow a mercy-stroak of death upon her. But then this miserable creature got on her knees, and with weeping, and wailing, and all expressions of agony and entreaty, prevailed on him to spare her life a little, and she did not question but God would enable her to “walk a little faster.” The merciless tyrant was prevail’d withal to spare her this time…

Mehitable and the other captives changed hands among several bands of natives along the journey and were ultimately sold to the French Canadians by about March 1690. (The histories I’ve read don’t say this, but yes, basically selling them as slaves.) Mehitable was put into service to a Mademoiselle de Nauguiere in Montreal. I suppose that escape wasn’t really an option; after all, she would need to go back through the native-filled country that she traversed to get to Montreal.

It seems that Mehitable must have made the best of her circumstances. On May 11, 1693, she was baptized into the Catholic Church with the name “Marie Esther”. More time passed, and it wasn’t until October 1695 when a Matthew Cary came to redeem Mehitable and a number of other captives in order to return them to their families. (I would love to know more about this man and the story behind his redeeming the captives!)

What I find incredible and wish I knew more about is Mehitable’s eventual return to her family. Where many captives assimilated to their new culture and some even refused to leave, Mehitable returned to the waiting Thomas and seemed to continue where they left off. The Goodwins re-built their family (which included my ancestor James), and had about nineteen more years together until Thomas’ death sometime after June 3, 1714.

Mehitable lived on much longer, passing away on June 2, 1740. In fact, her gravestone still stands in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick. She must have had amazing strength and resilience to have endured all that she did and to still have a normal and long life later on.