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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Family history

This is a good time to think about how the past touches us, before I tell you what happened to the people you have just read about. After all, what is this kind of personal history if not a way to connect with something bigger than ourselves? A touchstone for us as we spin through our lives.

As I think about my ancestors, I feel as if I am stretching my hand through a time curtain and touching flesh on the other side. I may never know if these people were kind or generous or loving. But I do know that they were very strong to have lived through the hardships they faced. And I know that they were very determined. I have a sense of who they were.

I am part of that history. I have come to realize that I am not simply the mix of my parents' DNA, but a complex blend of almost infinite possibilities. I realized this as I began to build the history of my family. A history is not a simple cultivated tree with a branch of people who have the same surname. It is a huge leafy maple with branches that intertwine and head off in all directions, held together by a sturdy trunk. From this complexity, you can create an organized "fan chart" of your grandparents. By the time I had found eight generations, I could see 256 gggggg-grandparents. These are my direct line ancestors, the ones who have given me their characteristics. And each one has a story to tell.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pierre Jamme Arrives

On May 29, 1687, Pierre Jamme arrived in Quebec on the ship Arc-en-Ciel. He was a soldier and, along with his company, commanded by Captain M. de Creusel, had departed from La Rochelle, France, on April 26, 1687. Pierre was the son of Jean Jamme, a farmer, and Marie-Charlotte Husse of Lantheuil, diocese of Bayeux in Normandy.

I try to imagine Pierre, at the age of 25, making such a journey. The trip across the Atlantic took over a month, and anyone who has sailed the Atlantic knows that the seas can be quite rough. What was that journey like for him? As he watched the receding shoreline of his homeland, I wonder if he planned to return as soon as his military service ended, or if he knew he would settle in New France.

When he arrived at the port of Quebec, he and the rest of his company was assigned to the garrison of Fort de la Presentation of Lachine. At the time, it was customary to house young soldiers among people in the community. Most likely, Pierre Jamme was assigned to the home of Pierre Barbary dit Grandmaison who was retired from service by then.

Marie Madeleine Barbary dit Grandmaison, Pierre's third eldest child, was only 15 when she caught Pierre Jamme's eye. In the fall of 1687, Pierre Jamme asked for her hand, and on October 24, 1688, they had signed a marriage contract, notiarized by the royal notary, Jean-Baptiste Pottier. The contract stated their intention to marry and set out the terms of the marriage, such as any dowry to be paid. The record showed, the dowry of 300 "livres" (approximately $300), on behalf of Pierre Jamme to his wife and one heifer, two pigs, a half dozen hens and a cock from Marie Madeleine's parents.

The marriage contract was a cermony of great importance in both France and New France. At least 10 witnesses attended the ceremony; among them were Marie Madeleine's parents, several neighbors of the Barbarin family, some comrade-in-arms such as Pierre Buisson who also belonged to the De Cruzel company from whom Pierre Jamme had obtained permission to marry, and Captain M. de Creusel, Pierre's commanding officer.

By the time this contract was signed, Pierre Jamme was known as Pierre Jamme dit La Carriere, shown by his signature on the contract. The addition of "dit La Carriere" to his name signified his "career" as a soldier. From this time forth, my family was known as Jamme dit Carriere, and, eventually, simply Carriere.

On February 29, 1689, Pierre Jamme dit Carriere and Marie Madeleine Barbary dit Grandmaison were married in Lachine at the church of Saints-Anges. It is not known if they moved into their own home, but most likely they continued to live with Marie Madeleine's parents. This may have been because Pierre Jamme dit Carriere was still in the Navy and was often away.

By this time, three of the Barbary children had died in childhood, and Marie Lebrun was pregnant with her 10th child. A month before she gave birth to her last child, baby Marguerite, two other Barbary children met with tragedy. Anne, age 4, and Jean, age 2, were killed accidently in a household fire. The parish priest, Pierre Remy, wrote about the incident in the parish register: ". . . lesquels furent trouves a moitie brules le 28 avril proche le four de Pierre Barbary leur père, auquel le feu prit par hasard . . . (both having been found half-burned on April 28 near the oven of their father, that had accidently caught fire)."

This proved to be an omen of what was yet to come.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Perre and Marie Lebrun Marry

When Pierre came to Quebec (New France) there were a total of 3215 white settlers and laborers. Although the colony had been in existence for over 50 years, there were a large majority of men and not many single women, so the population was growing slowly. Anxious to populate the colony to create a stronghold, Louis XIV began sending single women to New France. Called "Filles de Roi" they were offered a dowry to make the journey and marry a settler. The 700-900 women sent from France between 1663 and 1673 endured more than 100 days at sea to reach the colony. Once there, it was not difficult for them to find a husband - even with the influx of women, men still outnumbered women 3 to 1. Most were married within a month of their arrival.

In 1668, Pierre married Marie Lebrun, who may have been a Filles de Roi. Her parents are shown on the marriage records as being in Normandy, so it appears they did not travel with her. By then, Pierre was listed as a Captain in the Contrecour Company, part of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment.

They settled in an area on the Island of Montreal called Lachine, and Pierre became a laborer. He most likely received a land grant for his service as a soldier. Over the next 20 Years, Marie gave birth to 10 children.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pierre Barbarin dit Grandmaison comes to Quebec

My direct ancestors left Europe for the New World in the 17th century. Some landed in America, while others settled in Quebec. My earliest ancestor in the New World was Pierre Barbary (Barbarin) dit Grandmaison, my 8th great grandfather. He was a member of the Carignan-Salières regiment from France, a regiment of 1200 men who arrived in Quebec in the summer of 1665, under the orders of King Louis XIV. A nun living in Quebec, Marie de L'Incarnation, described the arrival:

"The ships have all arrived, bringing us the rest of the army, along with the most eminent persons whom the king has sent to the aid of the country," she wrote." They feared they would all perish in the storms they braved on their voyage...we are helping them to understand that this is a holy war, where the only things that matter are the glory of God and the salvation of souls."

Prior to arriving in "New France", his regiment had fought successfully against the Ottomans. Now, their task in New France was to fight the Iroquois and protect the fledgling French colony. Part of that work included building new defences along the Richelieu River. Inadequately clothed for the brutal winter and with few tools, they still succeeded in building 3 forts. After all their hard work, they looked forward to spending the worst of the winter in the shelter of the new forts.

But the Governor had other ideas. He wanted them to launch a campaign against the Iroquois in January. The Marquis de Salieres had this to say:

"When I understood and saw the state our soldiers were in for this enterprise, I saw all things ill disposed, the soldiers having no snowshoes, very few axes, a single blanket, no equipment for the ice and having only one pair of moccasins and stockings. When I saw all this, I said to the captains that it would require one of God's miracles for any good to come of this. Some of them replied that M. le gouverneur did as he pleased and took advice from no one."

During the campaign, they lost 400 men from the cold and never came across a single Iroquois.

Pierre survived this ordeal, and, like many other soldiers from the regiment, decided to stay in Quebec. Years later, when disaster gripped his family, he may have regretted this decision . . .