Monday, January 28, 2013

Mystery Monday: Who Was Benjamin Franklin Gard?

On September 20, 1823, the State of Ohio granted Benjamin Franklin Taylor the right to assume and use the name Benjamin Franklin Gard. Benjamin was 21 years old at the time. Various genealogical entries on the Internet list Benjamin Franklin Gard as the son of Lot Gard (1779-1832) and Mary Taylor (1787 – 1856). Born December 2, 1802, Benjamin appears to have used the surname Taylor, which is, of course, his mother’s maiden name, until he was an adult, at which time he petitioned for a name change and was granted it by an act or resolution of the Ohio state legislature on December 20, 1823. Immediately after the name change, he sought support from Judge John Patterson, recently elected from Ohio to the Eighteenth Congress of the United States, for his application to West Point, which Judge Patterson gave, along with Judge Felton (or Fulton) “and many others.” On the West Point document which shows Benjamin’s acceptance into West Point under the heading “Nature of Qualifications,” the following note was inserted: “well-qualified; much military talent!” (Yes, oddly, there is an exclamation point.) Benjamin was appointed to West Point on March 11, 1824, and in the column headed “Remarks” is written, “Sent to Hon. J. Patterson.” He appears in West Point’s registry for three years: 1825 (fourth class, or freshman); 1826 (third class, or sophomore); 1827 (second class, or junior). His name is not listed for 1828, which would have been his year of graduation. Interestingly, young Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was in the same class and tended to have about the same class ranking as Benjamin. For example, in 1825, Gard was 28th and Davis 32nd; in 1826, Gard was 32nd and Davis 29th; in 1827, Gard was 26th and Davis 29th; in 1828, when Davis graduated, he was 23rd in his class, while Gard’s name does not appear. So, the first part of the mystery hovers around these questions: “Why did Benjamin Franklin Taylor change his name to Gard in 1823? Was Mary Taylor, wife of Lot Gard, his mother? (She would have been 15 when Benjamin was born.) If not his mother, could she have been his aunt, caring for the child of, say, her brother?” The second is, “Why did he drop out of West Point in what would have been his last year?” I have not been able to find this particular Benjamin Franklin Gard with any certainty in the United States census records, though there is an entry for a Benjamin Franklin Gard in Marietta (Ward 3, Washington County), Ohio, in 1830. Since the University of Ohio is at Athens, Ohio, which was originally in Washington County, this entry may mean that Benjamin was studying medicine at this time. Perhaps a desire to do so is what led him to leave West Point before graduation. This, then, becomes the third question, “Where did Dr. Benjamin Franklin Gard receive his medical education?” I should note before going further that there were three men named Benjamin Franklin Gard in the nineteenth century: our man, from Morgan County, Ohio; another in Illinois; and a third in Iowa. This makes it something of a problem to determine whom our B. F. Gard married. It is certain that he married a woman named Mary Dysart in 1842 when he was 40 and she was only 19. However, her youth made it possible for her to bear two children before Dr. Gard passed away. They were a son, David Hossick Gard (b. 1843), and a daughter, Rebecca (b. 1846). We know Mary Dysart was Doctor Gard’s wife because her obituary mentions the fact (at least so indicated by now deceased genealogy researcher Jo Ellsworth). Mary appears to have taken as her second husband John Sharp. Now, there are also references to Benjamin Franklin Gard of Ohio having married a woman named Elizabeth Pontius on May 12, 1834. Green Lawn Cemetery records indicate that she outlived Dr. Gard and took as her second husband Richard Long. If she did not pre-decease Dr. Gard, why was Dr. Gard married to Mary Dysart in 1842? So, the fourth question is, “Whom did Benjamin Franklin Gard marry and when?” When the cholera epidemic of 1849 broke out in Columbus, Ohio, it hit especially hard at the state penitentiary there. Dr. Gard was summoned in early July to tend to suffering prisoners. However, the doctor himself caught the disease and passed away on July 11. Green Lawn Cemetery, where he is buried, notes that “Dr. Gard was took [sic] ill at 11:00 p.m. that night of July 10th and died at 1:30 the next afternoon [the 11th].” All records agree that this was the date of Benjamin Franklin Gard’s death. But, like so much of his life, one last mystery remains. The Ohio Source Records from “The Ohio Genealogical Quarterly,” p. 304, includes this entry: “Gard, B. F., (C-121) (Benjamin Franklin Gard). Of Columbus. Dated July 11, 1849. Gives to adopted daughter of Mrs. Rebecca Wonderly, named Leona Taylor "all my right to a certain tract of land now in possession of said Rebecca Wonderly." (Parenthetically, I must note here that the executor of the will is a man named Charles Pontius, leading to the fifth question,  "Was he kin to the elusive Elizabeth Pontius?") So, here we reach the sixth question: “What was Leona Taylor’s relationship to Benjamin Franklin Taylor Gard?” Census records show that Leona Taylor was born in 1846, which means she would have been only three years old at the time of Gard’s death. That Benjamin made this declaration on the day of his death (July 11, 1849) while in the throes of death shows how serious this action was to him. Of course, it is entirely possible that the will was made out at an earlier date and that the executor simply filed the will on July 11, but as of yet no date for the writing of the will has turned up. Census records of 1850 and 1860 have Leona Taylor residing in Loudon (Seneca County), Ohio, with William and Rebecca Wonderly. Then, mystery upon mystery, she appears (age 14) in the census record at Gratic (Preble County), Ohio , living with the Joseph Shirely family and another single lady—Ann Gard! The census records actually show two locations for Leona in 1860: one with the Wonderlys and one with the Shirely family. The seventh, eighth, and ninth questions then are, “Who is Ann Gard, born 1815? What is her relationship with the much younger Shirely family (she 44, the Shirleys 24 and 26)? And why do the Shirleys have a son named Franklin?” In 1870, when she is 24, she is once again living with Rebecca Wonderly, now age 71 and presumably a widow, but she appears (again) to have resided in two different places in 1870 as the census picks her up the same year in Hagerstown, Indiana, with the Shirley family once again—as well as a woman named Eliza Taylor, age 30. The tenth question, therefore, is, “Why is Leona bouncing around so much between the Shirelys and the Wonderlys?” I suppose it’s possible that there are two Leona Taylors in early nineteenth-century Ohio, but , if so, what are the odds that a Gard woman, a boy named Franklin, and another Taylor woman similar in age to Leona would be included in these goings-on coincidentally? Leona eventually married a fellow named Jonathan W. Lounsberry and moved with him to Omaha, Nebraska, but when she died in 1926, age 80, she was laid to rest near Mrs. Rebecca Wonderly in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she had been residing since her husband’s death. And that becomes the eleventh question: “Why was Leona so close to Rebecca that she wished to be buried next to her?” I sense that the key to the whole thing is to determine who Mary Taylor was. Married to Lot Gard, she is considered B. F.’s mother (or adopted mother). Mary Taylor was only 15 when Benjamin was born, so the logical scenarios would be these: (a) Mary was married very young to someone named Taylor, who fathered Benjamin Franklin Taylor; (b) Mary was not married prior to her marriage to Lot Gard, but had a child out of wedlock (rape? incest?) whom she named Benjamin Franklin and raised on her own until she met Lot Gard; (c) Mary was Benjamin Franklin Taylor’s aunt, raising the boy for a brother also surnamed Gard. But who can know for certain? We must be content with the fact that a seemingly fatherless boy on the Ohio prairie “made good,” went to West Point, became a doctor, established a reputation in Columbus, Ohio, and died trying to make the world a better place. Not a bad legacy for a mystery man, now is it?



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(c) in+gard+adopted&source=bl&ots=c0-CRcg9K1&sig=uJxOg5XsqHCPstbZyP3yXfZKjy0&hl=en&s a=X&ei=lVtiULaMMY-JqQH75oDQAg&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=benjamin%20franklin%20gard%20a%20dopted&f=false





Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thriller Thursday: Davy Gard and the St. Joe Brigand

In about 1865 or so, in the fall of the year, David Gard (1815-1887), my great-great-grandfather, hitched his horse to his buggy and headed northeast to Saint Joe, Missouri, to stock up on supplies that would help him get his family through the winter. Flour, sugar, salt, cornmeal, beans, coffee, perhaps cured bacon and lard—all of these things and more a family might need to sustain themselves throughout the coming winter months in northeast Kansas. Before coming to Kansas, Davy and his family had lived in the Lead Region of Wisconsin, where Davy was employed through the Civil War. (Davy was already 46 when the war began, but his son John, who fought for the Union, was killed in the draft riots in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1861). The Gards were located at Wingville, Wisconsin (Grant County), near the Iowa border in the southwest corner of the state, but, looking for a fresh start after the war, the family moved farther west to northeast Kansas and found an attractive spot in Westmoreland (Pottawatomie County), which is in the beautiful Flint Hills area of the state. Of Davy’s ten children, four were still at home in 1865, and, of course, there was his wife, Mary (nee Cook). So as November rolled around, Davy kissed Mary and the children good-bye and headed east to buy supplies to sustain his family. As the crow flies, it is an 88-mile journey from Westmoreland to St. Joe, but even with today’s highway system, it is still 120 miles by road. Why Davy went northeast to St. Joe instead of southeast to Topeka is not known, but maps reveal that Marysville, Kansas (north and just a bit west of Westmoreland), was a waypoint for “the Oregon and California Trails, the Mormon Trail, the St. Joe branch of the California Trail, the Overland Stagecoach Route, the Pony Express Route, and the Military Road.” Today’s Highway 36 runs between Marysville and St. Joseph, Missouri, which was the eastern starting point of the Pony Express. In fact, “the section of US-36 from Washington, Kansas to St. Joseph, Missouri is officially called the Pony Express Highway because it marks the starting section of the Pony Express. It crosses the Missouri River on the Pony Express Bridge.” Roads around this system of trails would have been fairly well traveled, so if one met with an accident, help might be more likely to come down the pike than on other roads. Moreover, these trails were well-equipped with rope ferries for river crossings, and there was just nothing like these advantages for the traveler going between Westmoreland and Topeka. It is said that a horse pulling a wagon travels at about 4 mph, alternating between a walk and a trot. So, if Davy went by road using the Marysville routes, it would have been about a 30-hour trip to St. Joe, which would translate into three or four days of jolting travel. Apparently, Davy made it to St. Joe okay, but after loading his wagon with the necessary supplies and heading back to Westmoreland, he encountered some trouble. As the story goes, old Davy was set upon by some fellow who thought he had a right to what was in Davy’s cart, and a fight ensued. I do not know if Davy had stopped his cart and the “cart-jacker” had jumped in it while Davy was unawares, or if the highwayman stopped him with a weapon of some sort. But it wasn’t long before the two of them were in--to Davy's mind--a life-and-death struggle, since his family’s winter survival depended in large part to the load the other fellow was trying to steal! Now, we’re fortunate to have a picture of Davy Gard, from which we can see that he was not a big man, but I think he must have been a wiry fellow with muscles well developed working in the lead and zinc mines of southwest Wisconsin. So, if the robber thought he’d found an easy target in a rather slight 50-year-old man traveling alone, he was quite wrong. Somehow, Davy managed to take the man down, and with the bad guy sprawled beneath him, he placed his thumbs near the eye sockets at the bridge of the nose and applied pressure, employing the muscle power he had once used hacking lead off the wall of a mine. And it was still working for him: the poor fellow’s eyeballs popped right out. Now, this would have stopped almost anyone from doing anything--the way I see it--so the bad guy gave up and, no doubt, took up moaning, groaning, and complaining. Davy, meanwhile, was able to dust himself off, climb back into his cart, cluck to his horse to giddy-up, and set out once again for wife and children. No word on what happened to the brigand.






Saturday, January 26, 2013

Part 3: Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie and Mathurine Goard (Deneault-Jager Line)

In addition to the 75-livre dowry that each young lady had brought with her, Louis offered the husbands of the Filles du Roi a one-time disbursement of 100 livres if they would stay in New France and establish families. Moreover, men who fathered ten children would receive 300 additional livres per year; and those who fathered twelve, 400. Such arrangements do not sit well with modern sensitivities, but marriage has always had a business component to it—and at least the couples were allowed to choose their own spouses. The king did not meddle in the particular matches. By the time Louis Marie met Mathurine Goard (and we do not know the exact date or circumstances surrounding their meeting), his surname had changed a bit. It seems the regimental records of the soldiers’ names became confusing to authorities since so many lads had very similar names—the French equivalents, I suppose, of Tommy Atkins or John Smith. Therefore, each man was encouraged to take a particular identifying name—a nom de guerre, of sorts, and our Louis Marie modified his name to become Louis Marie dit Sainte-Marie. The word "dit" (pronounced “dee”) means "said," but a looser translation—and one that would sound more typical in English—would be "called." Therefore, Louis’s name became “Louis Marie called Sainte-Marie.” It is hard to say exactly how Louis came to choose this name, but it may be an indication of the fact that he was indeed among the members of the regiment who built Fort Sainte-Marie upon arrival in Quebec. Like Louis, most of the others who decided to settle in Canada kept their dit names, passing them on to their children and sometimes even discontinuing use of their original surnames. So, at some point in time, Louis Marie dit Sainte-Marie made his way to Marguerite Bourgeoys’s establishment and began a courtship with Mathurine. According to Yve Landry, who wrote a book about the Filles du Roi, it was common practice that the prospective brides and grooms would become engaged in the church, with the priest as a witness. The European custom of proclaiming the marriage banns three times before the actual ceremony could take place gave way to the practical nature of Canadian frontier life and were usually discontinued. Louis and Mathurine were married on May 31, 1667, in the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal, which was operated at the time by the Sulpician Fathers, who, interestingly, had originated at the Church of Ste. Sulpice in Paris, where Marthurine’s parents were married and where she was baptized. There is an extant record that in 1671 Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie owned land in Longueil, Quebec, a city directly south of Montreal across the St. Lawrence River. This must have been the homestead where Louis and Marguerite lived and raised their family of ten children, four boys and six girls. Louis passed away in December 2, 1702, and is buried in Montreal. Marguerite lived on for eighteen years, dying in Montreal on December 9, 1720. It is highly likely that the two were buried at the Basilique Notre Dame, which remained their place of worship throughout their lives. Unfortunately, in the intervening (nearly) 300 years, the site of the old cemetery, just inside the northern wall, has become the location of numerous city buildings, though the remains of the founders of Montreal are presumed still to repose in the earth beneath them. The Society of the Daughters of the King and Soldiers of the Carignan[-Salieres Regiment] states, “Most of the millions of people of French Canadian descent today, both in Quebec and the rest of Canada and the USA (and beyond!), are descendants of one or more of these courageous women of the 17th century.” And, more specifically, genealogist Raymond M. Ste-Marie, a descendant of Louis and Mathurine, has catalogued all marriages on record in Canada involving the Ste-Marie surname—2,000 in all! Acknowledging the fact that for millenia, it was not uncommon for couples to have ten or more children—and they ten more, in their turn—one can see that the descendants of Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie and Mathurine Goard number in the millions. This rich heritage truly makes up for the loneliness of the little orphan girl in St-Sulpice and the young lady setting out to a strange new world with a glimmer of matrimonial hope. Though it might have been hard to see at the time, God had a plan all along. Sources:

Part 2: Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie and Mathurine Goard (Deneault-Jager Line)

Louis Marie (Marie being his original surname) was a French soldier in La Varennes Company of the Carignan Regiment. He was born in 1634 in St. Symphorien, Indre-Loire, France to Louis Marie, Sr., (1616 – 1689) and his wife Marguerite Marie Peigne (b. 1618), both of St. Symphorien, which today is virtually a neighborhood in Tours, 130 miles southwest of Paris. Young Louis was baptized at St. Symphorien de Tours, a church begun in the twelfth century and still standing. Louis’s parents had married in 1633 with their first child, a daughter, soon following and Louis one year after that. Though the date of Marguerite’s death is not recorded, it is possible she died in childbirth or as a result of complications of childbirth, since no more children were born after Louis. It is uncertain when young Louis Marie joined the military. The Salières Regiment (named for Henri de Chastelard, the Marquis of Salières) was so named in 1658, but before that it had been known as the Balthasar Regiment, which had been raised before 1636 during the Thirty Years’ War. The Carignan Regiment was established in 1644. These two regiments—Carignan and Salières—merged in 1665. Louis Marie would have turned eighteen three years earlier in 1652, but whether he became a soldier in the Balthasar, Salières, or Carignan Regiments before or after 1652 is not certain. Some sources indicate that the Carignan-Salières Regiment had fought the Ottoman Turks in 1664, though this would be true only for various individuals who had fought in Hungary in before the creation of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. Again, it is not certain if Louis was one of them or not. However, Louis is definitely listed as a soldier of the Carignan-Salières Regiment in 1665, which is, of course, the date of his arrival in Canada at which time he was thirty-two. Now what exactly was it that motivated King Louis XIV to send uniformed French soldiers to New France for the first time in 1665? Since 1648, the French in Canada had been involved in a series of conflicts with the Iroquois known as the Beaver Wars, so called because the conflict stemmed from the desire of the Iroquois to establish themselves as a kind of middleman in the fur trade between the French on the Atlantic coast and the more western Huron tribes. One writer has said, “The wars were ones of extreme brutality on both sides and considered one of the bloodiest series of conflicts in the history of North America” (PatriotFiles). The Dutch had been arming the Iroquois with European weaponry, and after an attempted peace treaty failed in the early 1650s, the Iroquois, moving north along Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, attacked and blockaded Ville-Marie (old Montreal). During this time period, the French settlers suffered from the torching of their homes, the slaughter of their families, and the kidnapping of women, children, and young men. Though the Iroquois attempted to integrate the women and children into their communities, the young men were often tortured mercilessly. These events came to a head in 1660 when Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, 25-year-old commander of the garrison at Ville-Marie, led a party of forty-four Huron warriors and seventeen French militia against the Iroquois at Long-Sault (now Carillon), resulting in the massacre of the French and their allies. Jesuit missionaries had also suffered at the hands of the Iroquois. Two of them, John de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, were captured in 1649, taken to the Georgian Bay area in Ontario, and brutally tortured. Though de Brebeuf survived only a few hours of torture, Lalemont continued to suffer throughout the night. One account reports, “There was no part of his body that was not burnt, even his eyes, for the villains had forced burning embers into the sockets” ( In addition to the human suffering caused by the Beaver Wars, there were serious economic ramifications for the French colony as well. With trade disruption, the burning of crops, and the decimation of the population, the French experience in the New World seemed doomed to destruction. Therefore, in 1661, the governor of New France, Pierre du Bois, Baron d'Avaugour, sent an emissary to France to apprise the king and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, then the Minister of Marine, of the threats to New France, specifically requesting at least 3,000 regular troops to assist the colony against the Iroquois. The king sent his own man to make a study of the situation in 1662 and, upon hearing his report, sent 100 soldiers to assist Governor d’Avaugour. But apparently d’Avaugour’s initial request for 3,000 troops was a more on the mark, for in 1665, Colbert (now the French finance minister) sent the Carignan-Salières Regiment as reinforcements. When the men debarked upon arrival in Montreal, Mother Marie de l’Incarnation, head of the Ursuline Sisters in New France, was among those who greeted them. She later wrote: “The ships have all arrived, bringing us the rest of the army, along with the most eminent persons the king has sent to the aid of the country. They feared they would all perish in the storms they braved on the 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” ( Indeed, Louis’s company had arrived in Canada on September 12, 1665, on Le Saint-Sebastien, a new Royal navy fluyt of 350 tons which had departed La Rochelle on May 24 under Captain Sieur du Pas de Jeu. On the same ship were some of colonial Canada’s VIPs: Jean Talon, Comte d'Orsainville, the new intendant (administrative official), and Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle, the new governor of New France. The Saint Sebastien had been accompanied across the Atlantic by another fluyt called Justice. The voyage had been a rough one, and more than twenty men from the two ships had died en route, with another 130 so weak they needed assistance in deboarding upon arrival. Fortunately, Montreal did have a hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu (Hostel of God), which had been established by nuns and missionaries in 1645, and many soldiers of the Carnigan-Salieres Regiment were treated there upon their arrival. Among the first orders of business for the Regiment was the construction of a fort, which they undertook about 16 miles southeast of Montreal at the foot of the Chambly Rapids on the River Richelieu. The fort was called Fort St. Louis but was later renamed—and still stands today—as Fort Chambly. Still, the gloss of history should not hide the agony which went into its construction. The Marquis Salières, remembering the event, wrote: “I was ordered to set out with seven companies to build a fort at the mouth of Lake Champlain without a carpenter, nor any other skilled workmen and with very few tools . . . . I arrived there with 350 men . . . many of whom were sick with stomach flu caused by the heavy rains and cold and who were also ill clothed, barefoot and had no pots to cook their salt pork or to make porridge” ( Once the fort was built, the Marquis received word that the Regiment would soon advance upon the Iroquois. With the Canadian winter coming on, De Salières was worried about the situation of his men, who lacked the basic necessities, and the wisdom of Governor Rémy de Courcelle, who seemed set on a winter campaign. The Marquis later recounted his thoughts, saying, “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 [Courcelle] did as he pleased and took advice from no one” ( In January 1666, Courcelle himself, with a party of about 500 men, set out to attack the Mohawks, the leading tribe among the Iroquois coalition, on what turned out to be a failed mission. Hundreds succumbed to the northern cold, including the guides, and the rest became lost, eventually stumbling into the Anglo-Dutch settlement at Corlaer (now Schenectday, NY), where their sometime European enemies gave them help. The following September, Jean Talon got up another expedition into Mohawk Territory. Morale was high as the 1,300 soldiers could now shake off the aches and pains of their cramped ship quarters and set about the task they were sent for. Mother Marie de l’Incarnation, head of the Ursuline Sisters in New France, described their morale, thus: “It seems to all this army that it is going to besiege paradise and that it aspires to take it and enter into it, because it is for the good of the faith and religion that it is going to fight” ( However, ruin was again on the horizon. First, the troops had to cover more than 180 miles to reach their goal. The cold rains of mid-September and a lack of food weakened the men. What is more, when they finally reached the Mohawk villages, it was only to find them deserted. Taking possession of the Mohawk territory “in the name of Louis XIV,” they began their return trip, which, of course, was even worse now that the later autumn months were upon them. Swollen rivers, fierce winds off of Lake Champlain, generally rugged territory, and the loss of men and canoes kept the troops quiet and solemn on their return to Quebec, which they reached on 5 November 1666. Though dismal for the men involved, the expedition—which saw no engagement but did include the burning of the abandoned Mohawk villages—was deemed a tactical success, and the tide of events began to turn in the favor of the French. In the summer of 1667, a treaty was signed, which brought peace for the next twenty years. Now that their mission was accomplished, the Carignan-Salières Regiment was ready to return to France. However, the King, still anxious to build up the French population in North America, offered incentives to the men of the Regiment to take wives from among the Filles du Roi and settle in New France. For this segment of the story, please continue to Part 3. Sources:

Fearless Females - Part 1: Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie and Mathurine Goard (Deneault-Jager Line)

When a little girl is left an orphan at the age of four, most of us would cry out and ask, “Where is God? Why do these bad things happen to such an innocent child?” And, of course, that is a natural enough reaction. But there is another way to look at it. Had Gilles Goard and his wife Catherine Leger not died young, their daughter Mathurine Goard (born 1648) would never have boarded a ship for New France in 1666, as one of the Filles du Roi, a program established by King Louis XIV to send young Frenchwomen to marry French soldiers in Quebec. Had that not happened, five people very important to me—including my own granddaughter—would never have been born. Through Mathurine’s tragic loss in childhood—and a hefty dose of courage as a young woman—God’s plan has been made more apparent. Mathurine was born in the Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Pres on the Ile-de-France in Paris and was baptized at Saint-Sulpice de Paris. Though nothing to date has turned up to tell us about her father, Gilles [pronounced “Zheel”] Goard, much is known about the area where the family lived. The word “faubourg” means “suburb” and refers to the fact that the area originated as a suburb of Paris. The word derives from the Latin word “foris,” which meant “opening” or “gate.” So, a “faubourg” was a collection of houses that grew up outside the gate of a town or a vicinity of a town. Thus, Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Pres was a little housing area immediately adjacent to Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Saint-Germain-des-Pres is in the Ile-de-France (or perhaps one should say on, since it translates as the Isle of France, so named because the area is an island surrounded by the various rivers that run through Paris). This area is and always has been a "posh" area of the city of Paris. To say that it is on the Left Bank, is to say that it is in the bohemian intellectual center with the Sorbonne University nearby. The area is sometimes referred to as the Latin Quarter, since the language of instruction at the Sorbonne was Latin "back in the day." The tourist web site *France at a Touch* says this about the Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Pres as it is today: "It is bordered on the north by the Seine, to the east by the Invalides & Tour Eiffel Quarter, to the south by the Luxembourg Quarter and to the west by the Latin Quarter. The intellectual center of gravity, of this quarter of bistros, bookshops, coffee-houses, galleries, nightclubs and publishing houses, is at the intersection of rue Bonaparte and boulevard St-Germain." It would be fair to conjecture that Gilles Goard was a man who found employment in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. His wife, Mathurine’s mother, was named Catherine Leger (pronounced “lezh-EE”). Catherine had been born in Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Pres in 1621 and married Gilles in 1645. Though the date of Gilles’s death is not certain, we know that Catherine died in 1650 away from home in Pouillenay about 135 miles southeast of Paris. She was twenty-nine at her death; little Mathurine, only two. Nothing is known about Mathurine’s upbringing or who exactly brought her up. But world events began to impact her life directly in 1663 when King Louis XIV became concerned that the English population in New England was outpacing that of the French population in New France. Though the English often took their wives with them, the French did not; as a result, the English population was growing considerably faster, and since France and England continued their age-old competition in the New World, King Louis was starting to worry. His solution to the problem was to create a program which he called Filles du Roi, Daughters of the King. Between 1663 and 1673, approximately 770 women, mostly orphans and daughters of impoverished aristocrats with no dowry, were given a wardrobe, a dowry of 75 livres, and free passage to Canada. A livre was worth a pound of silver, and if tools on the Internet can really help us figure this out, we could conclude that each of the brides was given more than enough to buy a cow but not enough to buy an ox. Since 770 women leaped at this chance for a new beginning in America, it must have seemed attractive to them. As it turned out, the king offered the men financial incentives as well, but more about that later. So, with her wardrobe and dowry, Mathurine boarded a ship in 1666, perhaps in Le Havre, a port city only 120 miles west of Paris, and began her approximately 60-day voyage to New France. Upon arrival in Quebec, she and her fellow Filles du Roi were probably met by a well-known figure in Montreal, Marguerite Bourgeoys, a middle-aged woman who had been educating children and caring for families in New France for over ten years. The young ladies were housed with Sister Marguerite, and in what we might call today a “home economics class,” she instructed them in “the art of housekeeping,” including “spinning wool, baking bread, making candles, weaving rag carpets, braiding rugs, butchering animals, planting a garden, etc.” But, most importantly perhaps for the girls, it was to Marguerite Bourgeoys’s “matrimonial agency” that young men seeking the acquaintance of a fille du roi would repair and undergo a severe examination process by the vigilant Marguerite. And here we introduce into our narrative a 32-year-old French soldier named Louis Marie dit Ste-Marie, a French soldier in Quebec. But who was Louis Marie?

Please continue with Part 2.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - The Elopement (Bain/Munro Line)

Just off the Scottish coast of the North Sea in early 1792, a ship came ashore at Staxigoe during a great storm. The Scots, being sea-faring folk, came to the rescue and welcomed the survivors into their homes in Staxigoe and nearby Wick. The captain of the wrecked vessel was put up at the home of Robert Sinclair, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Isabella caught his eye. Isabella, who later would be described by her granddaughter as a “proud-spirited” and “fine looking woman,” was a bright lass who had been planning to take advanced education at Edinburgh, which, at that time, was one of the leading universities of Europe. But her father, a merchant and burgess of Wick, fell ill, and Isabella could not afford to enroll. So, there she was in Wick at her father’s home when the storm-tossed captain took a seat at the fireplace to warm himself. Apparently the captain remained at the Sinclair residence for awhile, long enough to become smitten with Isabella’s spirit and beauty, and one night he asked the merchant and burgess of Wick for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Canisbay Parish Church
Perhaps the proposal sounded like a good match to Robert Sinclair, but to Isabella it was the worst possible development as she already had a sweetheart named John Sutherland, a lad in nearby John o’Groats, another Caithness coastal town to the north of Wick. Somehow (perhaps via a messenger dispatched by the distraught Isabella) word reached young John. Not one to let time and circumstances snatch his beloved from his hands, John—acknowledging the need for propriety—gathered up his sister and hurried to Wick to put a stop to the plans, probably following a sixteen-mile coastal path where now runs the A99 highway. With the help of one of the family’s servants, Isabella, John, and John’s sister hatched a plot to escape Wick and make their way to Canisbay “quam primum,” the sources say—as soon as possible—across the flat, treeless plains of Caithness where the temperature hovers at 32˚ in the winter months. Canisbay is somewhat to the southwest of John o’Groats, so the couple would probably have ventured north in a slightly more easterly direction than John would have taken from John o’Groats. The couple were wed on February 20, 1792, in Canisbay, Caithness, where John eventually became the keeper of an inn, no doubt providing a hearth for other travelers on the night roads of the Caithness plains.

Image Credit:
Photo by DeFacto. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons 4.0.

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