October 23, 2010

Alexina Levesque and Pierre Valcourt - Another great mystery solved

Pierre (Peter) Valcourt and Alexina Levesque
22 February 1916

The above photo of Pete Valcourt and my aunt Alexina Levesque has been in my collection of photos for years.  Unfortunately, I did not know who they were.  My aunt Alexina died at the young age of 22 a result of child birth complications.  Therefore, I had never known her but had heard a good deal about her from my mother who was her sister.  I also have a note book Alexina wrote in - what she wrote is quite poet and I think she could have been a great poet had she been so inclined.

So how was I able to finally identify this photo?  Every so often I get together with my mother's first cousins Toni and Rita née Monfet.  Their mother was my grandmother's sister so they are my first cousins once removed.  What they have shared with me these past few years has been invaluable.  So it occured to me when we were getting together last month that I had never taken out some of the photos that have no identification.  As soon as I showed them the wedding photo of "Pit" and Alexina, my cousin Rita who is in her 90s immediately said "that's Pit Valcourt and your aunt Alexina".  Woohoo!!!

After Alexina passed away, Pierre boarded with the above cousins' family for some time so they got to know him quite well. Pit, as we use referred to him, later married Clara Michaud and they had three children:  Theresa, Jacqueline and Leonard.

When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time with my Levesque grandparents while my mother worked in the mills.  Some evenings my grandmother Arthémise (née Dumais) would take me with her to visit Clara.  For the longest time I could not understand the connection until I began to do our family genealogy.  As long as my grandmother lived she remained attach to Pierre Valcourt and his family.

My aunt was born Alexina Marie Arthemise Lévesque 17 August 1896 in Lawrence, Massachusetts and was the eldest of the children.  Her parents were Étienne Levesque and Arthemise Dumais.  She married Pierre Valcourt 22 February 1916 at Ste Anne Church, Lawrence.  He was born 30 July 1891 at Ste-Rose, Notre-Dame du Lac, Québec, Canada and died 07 October 1954 in Methuen, Massachusetts. As of yet, I have no exact date for his marriage to Clara Michaud but given the death of Alexina, and the birth of their first child in 1924, it has to have been 1923.  His parents were Edouard/Edward Valcourt and Marie Voisine.

Another great mystery solved... for now...


Note:  As you can see it is very important to identify and label all  photos you have from the past, present and future. Sometimes we take photos thinking there will always be someone who can identify them.  I was fortunate to have the input of my cousins but I have other photos that will likely never be identified that I inherited from my mother.

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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino

October 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Families - Dumais and Goodrich - The Whole Story

Raquel (Rachel) Del Castillo Dumais

On January 10, 2010 I blogged about Raquel/Rachel Del Castillo who was my great aunt. I think she was also one of my mother's favorite aunts through marriage.  From the time I was quite young I remember my mother talking about "ma tante Rachel" (aunt Rachel). 

My mother spoke often of her and she thought she was one of the most stylish women she had ever known and she loved her for the wonderful person she was.  

The difficulty I encountered in doing our family genealogy and history was that I never knew how she fit into the family until I had a get-together with some of my mother's first cousins (my first cousins once removed).  Their mother was my grandmother's sister thus Dumais sisters so I figured they might be able to tell me something about the Dumais side of the family that I did not yet know.

While sharing and chatting, my cousin Rita asked if I had ever found information about Napoleon Dumais and his wife Raquel Del Castillo! Though only 5 years old when they returned to Lawrence from Cuba, now in her 90's, Rita remembered them and over the years wondered what had become of them. Wow!  I finally had a connection that I could dig into!

In my blog of January 10th I asked that if anyone knew anything about Rachel/Raquel Del Castillo to please contact me.  Lo and behold toward the end of June while I was painting our bathroom, I received a phone call from Florida.  Thinking it might be a telemarketer I almost did not pick up.  Then I decided I should so that this "person" would not keep calling.  I was floored when I heard the caller say "Hi, I believe we are related - Raquel Del Castillo was my great grandmother" - stunned, I asked her to repeat what she had just said... I was totally elated to have finally found this lost part of our family and our history.

This second cousin was none other than Adrianna Goodrich Blanco. She was excited.. I was excited.. and we had a difficult time putting our words together!  She told me that her uncle Bill Goodrich would call me later as he had been doing the family history.

  Cousin Bill Goodrich and his father Danilo Goodrich

Since that wonderful June 28th after Cousin Bill Goodrich called, we have exchanged photos and a good deal of information.  His son Jimmy has taken up the baton of family historian and I will share with him all of the information that I have on the Dumais family going back to the first progenitor, Jean Dumais who married Marguerite Richard in 1695 in France.

We have lots of ground to cover after all of these years!

Next:  Part 2: How Dumais becomes Goodrich - what happened to Napoleon Dumais, Raquel Del Castillo and their children.

 How Dumais became Goodrich

After many email exchanges and a couple of conversations with cousin Bill Goodrich, no one really knows how this name change occurred or why.  One can only assume it might have had to do with work or business relations in Cuba.

Cousin Bill told me that had his father not told him about the Dumais name he never would have known.  It seems that Napoleon Dumais had gone to Cuba and was working as a civil engineer of sorts, this information based on a ship's list that I also found.  I've no idea what kind of engineer he might have been as the Dumais children had no more education than when they arrived with in Massachusetts from Ste-Anastasie de Lyster, QC, Canada where they were all born.

 Raquel Del Castillo and Napoleon Dumais
 What became of Napoleon, Raquel 
and their Children?

Napoleon Dumais was born 21 August 1884 to Georges Dumais and Sara Demers in Ste-Anastasie.  He was the ninth of thirteen children and the fifth oldest of children who were still alive at the time of the family's migration to Lawrence, Massachusetts. According to a notebook I inherited from my grandmother Arthemise who was Napoleon's sister, the family arrived in Lawrence in 1891. That means that Napoleon was only seven years old at the time.  He was only thirteen years old when his mother died in 1897.  It had to be a difficult time for Napoleon and the family.

As a young adult he made his way to Cuba - it looks like we might never know the why of it all though I hope that someday we might find some clue.  I interviewed two of my elderly cousins whose mother was Napoleon's sister Beatrice.  Rita who is in her 90s was a little girl at the time but she remembers Napoleon and then his wife Raquel visiting their home often.

With the help of Cousin Bill Goodrich in Florida and the research I've been able to do, Napoleon and Raquel Del Castillo would have married abt. 1910 in Cuba.  While there, they had four children:  Noel Joseph, Gobley, George and Danilo who was Cousin Bill's father.  After their arrival in Lawrence two more children were born:  Gladys Marie Rachel and Norma Ida Clementine.

 Gobley, Noel, Danilo Dumais-Goodrich

According to the family history Cousin Bill was told, Napoleon was entrepreneurial.  It seems he would have been the first to bring dry cleaning operations to Cuba. The family seemed to think he was in the dry cleaning business in Lawrence but I've not been able to find any proof of that.  What I have found is that he worked as an insurance agent for Liberty Mutual. This was what he gave for his employment/employer in the WWI U.S. Draft Registration.

 George Dumais-Goodrich

Be that as it may, it seems that one day little George drank some cleaning fluid and died shortly thereafter. Napoleon was never the same after that. At some point he became very ill and died in 1923 at the age of thirty-nine.  His wife Raquel and the children returned to Cuba after saying their goodbyes to husband and father.

 Dr. Roman Del Castillo and Clementine Rodriguez

Back in Cuba, Raquel seems to have provided well for herself and her children.  Born abt 1889 to Dr. Roman Del Castillo and Clementine Rodriguez she apparently received an excellent education both in Cuba and in the United States.  She died in 1949 in Cuba.

Interestingly, though Raquel retained the name of Goodrich when she returned to Cuba, while living in Lawrence, Massachusetts the family had resumed the name of Dumais - Dumas is the spelling I found in the 1920 Federal 

Napoleon Dumais Genealogy

Napoleon Dumais 1884-1923 married circa 1910 Raquel Del Castillo abt. 1889-1949
Georges Dumais 1839-1903 married 1871 Sara Demers 1853-1897
Narcisse Dumais 1808-1834 married 1829 Marguerite Marquis1813-1873
Joseph Jean-Pierre Dumais 1764-1831 married 1790 Marie-Anne-Françoise Plourde1777-1816
Pierre Dumais 1714-1803 married 1755 Catherine Michaud abt. 1716-1755
Jean Dumais 1626----- married 1695 in France Marguerite Richard 1695
My sincere thanks to Cousin Bill Goodrich of Florida for providing all of the truly amazing Goodrich and Del Castillo photos I did not have.  He has a treasure trove of family photos and lots of good family history.

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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino

October 21, 2010

Let's call it serendepity - Death record for my LeBlanc grandfather is finally found

I have been searching for my grandfather, Damien LeBlanc's, death record for years.  A couple of years ago I found him listed as Daniel rather than Damien in a couple of records.  I thought that might have been a clerical error so I kept searching vitals for the death of *Damien* LeBlanc.

Now some years ago, I used to go to Lawrence City Hall every week and they would allow me to look through the index cards that contain information for births, marriages and deaths in the city of Lawrence.  It also includes the volume and page where the record can be found.

I have always said that whoever the first city clerk was who decided to index all of the vitals recorded in the City of Lawrence is a god-send to all researchers.  I'm not sure there are many cities or towns who have done this early on and I have had difficulty searching in other locales..

Last night when I went to bed a huge light went ON - I remembered having copied information about the death of a DANIEL LeBlanc,  My grandfather disappeared from city directories in 1913 so I've always assumed that as the "abt" death year. Before going to sleep I decided that today I should pull out that notebook and take a look.  This morning went to those notes and it gave a death date of 1913..hmm  could this be what I've searched for all these years?  Could I have had the information in hand without realizing it?

I went on the familysearchpilot.or site and instead of searching for Damien I did a search for DANIEL LEBLANC - BINGO!!! There was the death record right in front of me listing the names of his parents..yes, I went a bit crazy!

I still cannot believe this record is in hand after all the years I have searched - now I have another mystery.  The name of the person who provided the information was a Mrs. Pierre LeBlanc.  Damien aka Daniel had no children named Pierre nor did he have a brother by that name.  As we know, the search is never done so here I go again. 

I have always believed that one family rarely migrated by itself - this may well have been a cousin's wife.  I intend to see if I can find more on this though it will be like searching for a needle in the perennial hay stack.  Wish me luck!  Before I begin that search I intend to enjoy today's great and unbelievable find!  Yes, at times is truly is serendepity.

So again.. never give up the search.  Our ancestors are waiting to be found.


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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino

October 18, 2010

Historic Tales of Old Quebec

As told by George Gale ~ Published in 1923

Jacques Cartier, a famous sea captain of St. Malo, France, the discoverer of Canada, sailed up the majestic St. Lawrence in 1535, and wintered his fleet of three small sailing vessels, the "Grande Hermine", the "Petite Hermine" and the "Emerillon" at the mouth of the stream still known as the Lairet - named after a pioneer settler of Charlesbourg - which flows into the St. Charles river, now within the limits of the city. It was Jacques Cartier who named a bay on the north shoreof the gulf, which he entered on the feast of St. Laurent, August 10, "Baye Saint Laurent", translated St Lawrence. It was not until 1608 that Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec and built his "Abitation" or fort in the Lower Town, directly below Dufferin Terrace. The Recollet monks, the first French missionaries in Canda, arrived in 1615. It ws on the 20th July, 1629, that the Kirkes captured Quebec from the French in the name of King Charles I of England, who held it until the 13th July 1632, when it was restored to the Crown of France, who remained in possession of the colony until 1759, when it again fell into the hands of the British following Wolfe's siege of Quebec and the battle of the Plains of Abrahan on the 13th September of the last mentioned year. In all, France ruled the country for over one hundred and fifty years, while the flag of Engand has waved over the lofty Cape Diamond continuously for one hundred and sixty-four years [as of 1920s].

The following is a list of the historic tables in Quebec in the 1920s together with the inscriptions and where located according to George Gale:

1613: In the playground of the Quebec Seminary: "Here stood the house of Guillaume Couillard, employé of the Company of the Hundred Associates, who arrived in Quebec in 1613 and who died on the 4th of March, 1663."

1615: On the face of building at corner of Sous-le-Fort and Little Champlain streets (foot of Breakneck Steps): - "The approximate site of the first chapel erected in Quebec by Champlain in 1615. It was destroyed by fire during the occupation of Quebec by the Kirkes from 1629 to 1632."

1620: Beside the Upper-Lower Town elevator office on the Terrace - "Here stood the Fort and Chateau St. Louis. The Fort was erected in the year 1620; within its walls the founder of Quebec died on December 25th, 1635. The Chateau was the residence of Governors of Canada. Begun by the Chevalier de Montmagny, reconstructed by Count de Frontenac, enlarged by Sir James Craig. This building was destroyed by fire on the 23rd of January, 1834".

1633: Outside of the gate leading to the Bishop's Palace at the top of Mountain Hill - "Here was erected, in 1633, the Church of Notre-Dame de Recouvrance under the direction and in fulfillment of a vow of Samuel de Champlain, first Governor of New France. Restored and enlarged in 1634. It was destroyed by fire on the 14th of June, 1640".

1635: On the front southeast corner of the City Hall - "On this site stood the Jesuits' College, founded in 1635. Destroyed by fire in 1640, rebuilt in 1647, considerably enlarged in 1725. It was occupied partly by British troops and public officers, from 1759 to 1776 as a barrack from 1776 to 1871, and finally demolished in 1877. The church attached to it, which extended towards Ste. Anne street, was erected in 1666 and demolished in 1807."

1639: On face of Blanchard's Hotel, opposite the front of the Notre-Dame des Victoires Church, Lower Town - "On this site stood in 1639 a house belonging to Noel Juchereau des Chatelets, which was the first residence of the Venerable Mother Marie de l'Incarnation and of the Ursuline Nuns in Quebec".

1640: At the corner of Garden and Anne streets, northwest corner of the English Cathedral grounds - "On this ground stood the trading house of the Company of the Hundred Associates. It served as a parish church after the burning down of Notre-Dame de Recouvrance on the 14th of June, 1640, and also served as a place of residence for the Jesuit Fathers from 1640 to 1657".

1644: Beside the Ursuline Chapel on Parlor street - "On this site stood the house of Madame de la Peltrie. It was built in 1644 and within it r esided for two years (1659-1661) Monseigneur de Laval, first Bishop of quebec. It was replaced by the present day-school of the Ursulines in 1836".

1650: On the northeast corner of the Court House, Place d'Armes - "This ground, which formerly extended to the east, and was occupied by the Seneschal's Court about the year 1650, became in 1681 the property of the Recollets, who erected on it a church and monastery which were destroyed by fire in 1796. The old Court House built at the beginning of the 19th century was also destroyed by fire in 1873, the present edifice taking the place shortly afterwards. The adjoining Anglican cathedral occupies part of the grounds once held by the Recollets".

1668: On the face of the Boswell Brewery Office at the foot of Plaace Hill, (Nicholas street) - "On this site the Intendant Talon erected a brewery in 1668 which was converted into a Palace for the intendants by M. de Meulles, in 1686. This building was destroyed by fire in 1713, reconstructed by M. Bégon; it was again damaged by fire in 1728, restored by M. Dupuys in 1729; it was finally destroyed during the siege of Quebec in 1775".

1686: On the hillside of the Chinic Hardware Co.'s building at the foot of Mountain Hill, (corner of St. Peter street) - "Here stood in 1681 the dwelling house of Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye, one of the most prominent merchants of quebec in the seventeenth century, the ancestor of the de Gaspé family".

1687: Half way down Mountain Hill (opposite Chabot's bookbindery) - "Within this enclosure was located the first graveyard of quebec, where interments were made from the early days of the Colony up to 1687".

1688: On Notre-Dame des Victoires Church, Lower Town - "This church, erected in 1688, under the name of L'Enfant Jésus, on the site of the old "King's Store", took the name of "Notre-Dame de la Victoire" in 1690, and of "Notre-Dame des Victoires" in 1711. The square in front of the church was used as the market place of Quebec during the French Regime and around it stood the residences of the principal merchants of that time. In the centre of the square in 1686, the Intendant Champigny erected a bronze bust of Louis XIV".

1690: On the fence of the garden at the upper end of Mont-Carmel street (up Haldimand street and to right on Mont-Carmel street) -"On this height, called Mont-Carmel, there stood in 1690 a stone windmill whereon was mounted a battery of three guns, and which served for a redoubt during the siege of Quebec by Phipps. It was called "Le Cavalier du Moulin'".

1691: On the wall of the Cartridge Factory, half way down Palace hill - "Here stood Palace, or St. Nicholas Gate, built in 1691, restroed successively in 1720 and 1790; it was rebuilt from 1823 to 1832, and finally demolished in 1874".

1692: Corner of St. Peter and Mountain Hill on the McCall & Shehyn Building, (northwest corner) - "On this site stood the convent of the Nuns of the Congregation, established by Sister Bourgeoys in 1692, and occupied by the said religious community up to 1842, when it removed to St. Roch".

1746: On the Marine Department Building, Champalin street - "In 1746, Louis SV, King of France, took possession of this area of ground in order to establish a new shipyard for the building of his vessels. Here stood the first custom House erected by the British Government in Quebec after the cession".

1758: Located on the Ramparts, between St. Flavien and Hamel streets, (previous residence of Sir Lomer Gouin, Premier of Quebec Province) - "On this site stood the house where Montcalm resided during the years of 1758 and 1759".

1775: On the Molson's Bank Building, Lower Town (St. James street, between St. Peter and Sault-au-Matelot streets - "Here stood her old and new defenders uniting, guarding, saving Canada, defeating Arnold at the Sault-au-Matelot barricade on the last day of 1775; Guy Carleton commanding at Quebec".

1775: tablet on the cliff above Champlain street, near Allan-Rae Steamship Company's Wharf - "Here stood the Undaunted Fifty safeguarding Canada, defeating Montgomery at the Pré-de-Ville barricade on the last day of 1775; Guy Carleton commanding at Quebec".

1776: On the Citadel Hill, not far from St. Louis street (right hand side going up) - "In this place was buried, on the 4th of January, 1776, along with his two aides-de-camp, McPherson and Cheeseman, and certain of his soldiers, Richard Montgomery, the American General who was killed during the attack on QAuebec on the 31st of December 1775. In 1818 his remains were exhumed and removed to the precincts of St. Paul's Church, New York".

1784: By the baggage office of the Chateau Frontenac, (St. Louis street) - "Here stood the Chateau Haldimand or Vieux Chateau, occupying part of the outworks of the Fort St. Louis. Begun in 1784, completed in 1787. this edifice was displaced by the erection of the pressent Chateaeu Frontenac in 1892".

1791: On the front of the "Kent House" at the corner of St. Louis and Haldimand streets - "This bilding was the residence of the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, during his stay in Quebec, from 1791 to 1794".

1797: On the new portion of the City Post Office, Mountain Hill (Table removed during construction of Post Office) - "Prescott Gate built in 1797; rebuilt 1815; torn down, 1871-1872".

1806: On the dwelling No. 22, Ferland Street - "Here was established in 1806, "Le Canadien", the first French newspaper published in Quebec".

1806: Corner of St. Flavien and Couillard streets, (no. 14 St. Flavien) - "In this house Francois-Xavier Garneau, the historian of Canada, lived for several years and here he died on the 3rd February 1866".

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Lucie's Legacy
Acadian Ancestral Home/Quebec
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino