Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire: III

The other Joseph

Third of a four-part series of the real and imagined life of Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire (1824-1895)

What about the other Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire that was baptized in St-Ours? We might assume that the census records in St-Jude relate to him. But it looks like his path led him to Massachusetts – like many others of his generation in the Sorel region.

Before heading there, his marriage took place, coincidentally, just a few days before our other Joseph. Joseph son of Pierre married Marguerite Dauphin in St-Jude. After that, the similarities between our two Josephs end.

Picking up his trail, we find Joseph Gregory in 1863 enlisting in Massachusetts (at 40 years old) to serve with the Union Army in the Civil War that began in 1861. After the war, he petitioned in 1878 for, and was granted, naturalized citizenship in Boston. His application records show that he is a shoemaker and his point of entry to the United States was St-Albans, Vermont.

Later, according to the 1880 U.S. census, he is a labourer living in Hudson MA with his wife Margaret (45), children Edwidge (20), Mary (16), Joseph (12) and Johannis (2).
Joseph Gregory died in 1898 in Hudson MA, three years after Joseph Gregoire of St-Ours.

Building a family dynasty

There is some evidence that the Comeau, Gregoire and Duhamel families were well acquainted. In 1852, Joseph (fils) was a witness to Paul Como‘s marriage contract with Francoise Mathieu and he also appeared as a witness at their wedding. Paul Como’s second wife is Florence Duhamel of Ste-Victoire, probably a not-too-distant relation to Eloise’s Duhamels.

In March 1852, Joseph and Eloise’s second child, Alphonse, is born and the following year another son, Magloire, is born.

1855 Land transaction

In 1854, the seigneurial regime of land grants was abolished and changed to a freehold system of land ownership. This might have been the reason for a couple of land title transactions involving Joseph Valentin (likely Joseph the father) in 1854 and 1855.

Three more daughters are born in St-Ours: Amanda in 1855, Albina (future wife of Joseph Comeau) in 1856 and Alexina in 1858. These are followed by a son, Raphael in 1860. With a quick succession of babies in the household, one must wonder if the latest home innovation, the rotary washing machine (patented in 1858) was something high on the family’s wish list.

Signatures

In 1861 there are six schools with 453 students in the parish. The two village schools have 40 boys and 50 girls. Many, if not all, of Joseph & Eloise’s children attended school as evidenced by their ability to sign various documents as witnesses to weddings, burials and baptisms.

Joseph and his family finally appear in the 1861 census, living in St-Ours with seven children and his widowed father. He is listed as a farmer – an occupation he held all his working life. The census also describes their dwelling as a single-storey house of wood construction.

Three more daughters are born to Joseph & Eloise over the next few years: Louise in 1862, Rosanna in 1863 and Parmelie (Melina) in 1865. Their youngest child, Marie Louise (Lovia) is born in 1868.

The centre of village life was of course its church. In 1861, a group of men were elected as syndics to oversee the repairs to the church. Eloise’s father, André Duhamel, was among them. The debate over the remediation of the church ranged from extensive repairs to demolition and rebuilding on the existing or other sites. In 1870 a group of parishioners sign a resolution favoring the demolition of the old church to build a new church. About 280 are for the resolution. A smaller group of parishioners who had the right to sign, did not – Andre Duhamel and Joseph Gregoire were among that group. Despite the resolution, the matter won’t be resolved until 1877.

It was a debate that went on (and on) with the diocese for decades until finally in 1882 the old church was demolished to make way for a new one. André, no longer a syndic, didn’t live long enough to see the new church constructed. He died just as the old church was being demolished to make way for the new build.

In 1865 catastrophic floods affected the area. Particularly hard-hit were the islands of Sorel where the population was decimated with over 30 deaths from drowning.

In 1866, Eloise experienced the loss of another sibling, her youngest brother Francois Xavier. He was only 16 years old. His cause of death is unknown.

In 1867, on July 1, the Dominion of Canada is formed, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The proclamation appears in the June edition of the Sorel Gazette. There is speculation about who will form the first government and fill the new ministerial positions in advance of elections to be held in August.

© Janet Comeau – August 2018

Paul Comeau: Witness to change IV

Migration

Fourth of a four-part series of the real and imagined life of Paul Comeau (1826-1905)

Sometime around 1870, Paul left for New England with his family. “Between 1840 and 1930 roughly 900,000 French Canadians left Canada to emigrate to the United States…A majority of them were from rural parishes and agricultural problems are determined to be at the root of the economic factors that stimulated emigration.” In fact, the immigrant population of Southbridge Massachusetts, where Paul and his family located, was dominated by Quebec emigrés from St-Ours and Sorel.

We know Paul was in Massachusetts because he and his family appear (with anglicized names) in the 1870 census, living in Hardwick, Worcester, Mass.

Paul Como 46 Works in Woolen Mill
Mary 36 Keeping house
Joseph 14 Works in Woolen Mill
Paul 12 Works in Woolen Mill
Dillon[?] 10 Works in Woolen Mill; Attended school in previous 12 months.
Peter 4 At home

All but Dillon cannot read or write. Paul Sr. is listed as a US citizen without voting rights.

In 1871, the exodus of French Canadians to the U.S. prompted a two-day convention in Worcester MA, attended by delegates and members of the clergy. The agenda for the conference included:
• Press canadienne aux Etats-Unis
• Ecoles françaises
• Naturalisation et repatriement
• Moyens d’accroître notre bien-être matériel
• Etablissement de nouvelles sociétés de secours mutual
• Questions d’honneur national.

The conference concluded with a number of declarations and resolutions which were reported in La Gazette de Sorel to improve the well being of French Canadians in the U.S. (including Paul and his family).

The woolen mill referenced in the census listing for Paul and his family is quite likely George H. Gilbert’s new Ware wool factory in Hardwick Gore. It was not uncommon for children to be working in mills to help bring in income.

Ware wool factory in Hardwick (http://www.townofhardwick.com/History.html)

In 1871, his wife Marie died of consumption in Leicester, Massachusetts and was buried in St. Johns cemetery in Worcester. By 1875, Paul had brought his family back to St-Ours. He is recorded on a transaction involving his brother-in-law Etienne Mathieu and Capt. François Lamoureux. He’s also listed in the land registry for the seigneury of St-Ours from 1872 to 1901, so clearly, he still held property ties to the area.

In November 1875, now a widower with four children 5 to 15 years old, he married Florence Duhamel of Ste-Victoire in a ceremony witnessed by his brother Pierre, Marie Mongeon, Sophie Mathieu, Gelinas Lamothe, Narcisse Martin, Pierre Duhamel, Prisque Hebert and others.

What is known about Florence Duhamel? She was born on August 11, 1831 in Sorel to Pierre Duhamel, agriculteur, and Marguerite Proulx. Pierre and Marguerite had six children — five girls and one boy. Florence was the second oldest child. Being in Sorel around the same time as the Mathieu family, it’s possible that Florence may have known Marie or one of her older brothers. In 1846, the Sorel school commission was formed, and it is known from the 1861 census that Florence’s two youngest sisters attended school in 1860. In 1858, the population of Sorel (then called William-Henry) was 3,345.

Interestingly, despite the large influx of United Empire Loyalists after the revolutionary war in the U.S., there are only eight English inhabitants in the town (1 Scot, 7 Irish). In 1861, Florence is still living with her parents and siblings in Ste-Victoire. In 1865 catastrophic floods affected the area. Particularly hard-hit were the islands of Sorel where the population was decimated with over 30 deaths from drowning. Five years later, Florence is still unmarried and living with her brother’s family, siblings and elderly parents in Ste-Victoire. In 1874 Florence enters into a series of property transactions – first with her brother Pierre related to a donation to her made by her father. Then a purchase from Pierre Lacroix followed by a sale to Felix Duval. Were these in preparation for her coming nuptials with Paul? The details of these transactions are not fully known.

The first few years of Paul and Florence’s marriage seemed to be occupied with a series of land and loan transactions starting with the sale of a plot of land to Pierre Duhamel (Florence’s brother). In 1878, Paul & Florence borrow $1400 from her sister, Sophie Duhamel to purchase land and build a house.

In 1879, Paul witnesses the marriage contract and the wedding for his son, Joseph, and Marie Hermine Albina Gregoire. A year later, his first grandchild, Rosaline, is born. In the 1881 census, Paul’s household includes his sons Joseph, Paul and Pierre, his wife Florence and Aurelie Harpin. Their daughter, Adelaide is not listed and her whereabouts are not known. Joseph is also recorded elsewhere in the census with his wife, Albina, and their baby, Rose. All four men are recorded as farmers. Another granddaughter, Leontine, is born in the fall of 1881 to Joseph and Albina but she dies a couple of weeks later. Rose dies at three years old.

Childhood mortality was a common reality during this period. In Paul’s family alone, of 14 grandchildren born between 1880 and 1904, only 5 survived to adulthood. We don’t know what caused this high rate of mortality, but the leading causes of death for young children at that time were gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.

A lot was happening in St-Ours – after years of disagreement on approaches, the church at St-Ours was demolished to make way for a new building. The new church was consecrated in 1882. A couple of years later Mme de St-Ours passed away. She was a large presence in the community as patron of many projects. Her funeral was attended by most of the population.

Wedding bells rang again in 1885 when son Paul Stephane married Marie Gouin in St-Robert. Paul was present at this occasion. Five years later, his third son, Pierre, married Elisabeth Brisebois from Sweetburg (near Cowansville). Perhaps the occasion of this last marriage prompted the family to arrange for a set of portrait photos to be taken in 1890.
In addition to commercial photography, other innovations to reach St-Ours were likely the telephone (the Bell Telephone Company was formed in 1880) and the installation of street lighting on the main street in 1887.

In 1891, Paul is still farming at the age of 64 with Florence by his side. His children have all left the nest and established their own households.

On the political front, the government changes prime ministers five times in as many years. They are: Sir John Abbott (Conservative), Sir John Thompson (Conservative), Sir MacKenzie Bowell (Conservative), Sir Wilfred Laurier (Liberal) and Sir Charles Tupper (Conservative).

Then as the century draws to a close, Paul’s wife, Florence dies in December 1898. Paul’s son Joseph attended and witnessed the burial. After Florence’s death (1899), it appears that Paul headed back to Massachusetts to join his sons, Pierre and Paul in Southbridge. What could have been the reason for their decision to go to the United States? Economic? Nostalgia? The boys did spend some of their early childhood there. Or political – Canada had just entered the Boer war and was sending troops overseas – a development that was opposed by Quebec. We’ll never really know the motive, but we do know that Paul was living with Paul Stephane in Southbridge. The 1900 U.S. Census tells us that Paul Stephane and his wife had been in the U.S. 13 years. Both worked as cotton weavers. Her son Ethier (with her previous husband) and his wife also lived in the house. Ethier was a grocery salesclerk. He could read, write and speak English. The city directory for Ware, MA shows Paul Stephane’s address as 23 Canal St. It’s not known when Pierre went to Southbridge, but it is known that he remained there. Back in St-Ours, Paul’s son Joseph passes away in 1901 at just 45 years old.

Paul Comeau would die in Southbridge on December 27, 1905. Three days later he was buried in his ancestral home of St-Ours. His son Paul Stephane attended the funeral and probably accompanied his father on his last journey home.

Southbridge, MA in 1905 (Wikimedia)

by Janet Comeau, May 2018

Paul Comeau: Witness to change III

Home and country

Third of a four-part series of the real and imagined life of Paul Comeau (1826-1905)

In September 1840, when Paul was 14, his mother died. She left behind her husband, Joseph, 11 children and 11 grandchildren:
• Joseph (married to Marie Desanges Allaire, 4 grandchildren)
• Josephte (married to Eduard Girouard, 1 grandchild)
• François
• Sophie (married to François Moise Girouard, 3 grandchildren)
• Charlotte (married to Jean Baptiste Lamoureux, 1 grandchild)
• Eleonore (married to Antoine Mongeon)
• Honorée
• Pierre
• Paul
• Alexis
• Jean Baptiste

In Sorel, Marie Mathieu’s mother gave birth to two daughters, one in 1837 and another in 1840 . The latter was named Victoria – a name that became popular after the coronation of the young Queen of the British Empire. Sadly, both girls died very young. In 1841 a boy was born who also did not survive.

Map of Canada East 1855
Canada East (Library & Archives Canada; MIKAN 3694915)

In the mid-1800s, the business of building a country got underway. In 1841, Upper and Lower Canada united to become the Province of Canada and were renamed to Canada East and Canada West. The same year, a new system of Canadian currency was adopted. The new Canadian pound was equivalent to four US dollars (92.88 grains of gold) or 16 shillings and 5.3 pence sterling. In 1849, the government of the Province of Canada enacts all legislative bills in both English and French.

1844 looked like a good year for a young man of 18 to join the workforce. The Chambly canal and a system of locks were built to improve the flow of goods between Montreal and New York. The last of the locks (#10) to be built was in St-Ours, which opened in 1849. Family lore has it that Paul worked as a barge-puller and lock-keeper. Wages for a lockkeeper in 1843 were two shillings and sixpence and they were on duty from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. during May to September. By 1852 the wage was up to three shillings a day.

In 1845, Paul was invited by his sister, Eleonore, to be the godfather to her son Antoine Mongeon. 30 years later, Antoine will assist with the settlement of Paul’s wife’s (Marie Mathieu) estate.

1847 brought more epidemics (influenza, typhus, cholera), due mostly to ongoing waves of immigration during the mid-century. In St-Jude, Marie’s maternal grandfather, Charles Allaire, died at 80 years old – of old age or could the epidemic have been a factor? It’s not clear of the impact, if any, epidemics had on the growing community of St-Ours, which by this time had grown to 3,000 and could boast of having six schools with about 700 students (boys and girls). In that year, the village of St-Ours also becomes a separate municipality from the parish. Later it establishes a fire brigade with the purchase of a pumper.

Sorel, too, was a growing concern. The new parish of Ste-Victoire was established in 1842. In 1843, a new Anglican Church was built to support the growing anglophone community – many of whom were descendants of United Empire Loyalist immigrants. A public market was built of brick construction that was 100 x 35 feet in dimension. Around 1845, John Molson & David Vaughan established shipyards in Sorel.

Paul’s older brother Pierre was also a military man, following in his father’s footsteps as a member of the local militia. In 1847, he was promoted to captain of the 1st battalion of Richelieu county. Looking back to 10 years earlier, what was his role during the rebellion?

In March 1850, Paul’s father Capitaine Joseph Comeau passed away. He was 73. His burial was witnessed by Eugene and Hipolyte Laviolet.

The following year, the first thorough Canadian census got underway and included Canada West, Canada East, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It was not completed until 1853. Unfortunately, the records for St. Ours, William-Henry (Sorel) and Ste-Victoire are missing so we don’t know very much about Paul’s family at that time. We do know that Paul was getting ready to settle down.

In 1852 he signed a marriage contract with Marie Mathieu, daughter of Capitaine Joseph Mathieu and Françoise Allaire of Ste-Victoire, a neighbouring parish. Because Marie was a minor, her parents also signed the contract on her behalf. The signing of the contract was a large event, with many family and friends present. Paul promised to endow Marie with 300 livres (old currency). The contract also notes that Marie brings with her some land in St-Jude with a house, barn, stable and furnishings which were donated to Marie by her parents in 1850. Neither Paul nor Marie knew how to sign (they placed their marks) and among the witnesses who did sign were: his brother Pierre Comeau, Elmire Proulx, Louise Duhamel, Eduard de St-Felix, Cyprien Mathieu, Ethiene Mathieu and Antoine Mongeon.

On the 18th of January 1852, at the church in Ste-Victoire, Paul and Marie were married. On the parish register, Paul’s given occupation is farmer. Witnesses to their wedding included Joseph Gregoire, Laurent St-Martin, his brother Pierre and Marie’s father Joseph.

Barely a month after the wedding, Paul and Marie sell a plot of land in Ste-Victoire to her brother, Etienne. The land is described as part standing timber and part burned and without buildings. The sale price was 900 pounds (old currency) and was to be paid as follows: 300 pounds on November 1, 1852 and the balance on November 1, 1854, without interest if paid on time. It also appears that Marie’s land in St-Jude was mortgaged for 1,800 pounds as a surety. These transactions occurred at about the same time that the seigneurial system was officially abolished. It’s not clear if this change impacted Paul and Marie’s holdings.

The couple established themselves in the newly-constituted municipality of St-Jude where Paul and Marie’s first child died at birth in 1854. Their son Joseph was born in 1856 followed by Paul Stephane in 1858. While It’s not likely that Paul and Marie were early adopters of the latest in domestic technology, word of some of these innovations may have reached them: safety pins, the Singer sewing machine, pasteurization, the rotary washing machine, tin cans with key openers – just to name a few.

Sorel Gazette, July 1, 1867

On the national front, yet another change to the currency occurred with the introduction of the Canadian dollar and new decimal coins in 1858. The British gold sovereign continued to remain legal tender — right up until the 1990s.

The 1858 election was so fraught with irregularities that another set of complicated electoral reforms were enacted. An election in 1861 resulted in an even number of Liberal and Conservative seats taken in both East and West Canada. In Quebec, the conservative vote was dominated by the Bleu movement of French Canadian Tories. As a property owner and British subject, Paul was likely eligible to vote, but it’s not known if he did. Literacy was not an impediment as votes could be cast orally.

In 1861, we finally see Paul and his family recorded on a census. They are living in a single-storey wooden house in Ste-Victoire. Also in the household is another Marie Mathieu (aged 15) – a cousin or niece, perhaps? In July of that year, a daughter, Adelaide is born. In 1864, Paul’s brother Pierre is named a justice of the peace and another daughter, Marie Louise is born in St-Jude, but she dies soon after at two months old. Their last child, Pierre, was born in 1866 and baptised in St-Aimé.

In 1867, on July 1, the Dominion of Canada is formed, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The proclamation appears in the June edition of the Sorel Gazette. There is speculation about who will form the first government and fill the new ministerial positions in advance of elections to be held in August.

Next: Migrations

by Janet Comeau, May 2018

Paul Comeau: Witness to change

Beginnings

First of a four-part series of the real and imagined life of Paul Comeau (1826-1905)

What we know definitively about Paul Comeau is mostly from documented facts and a bit of family lore. Still, judging from the events that occurred during his lifetime from 1827 to 1905, it’s more interesting to consider his impressions of the political, social and technological changes that he likely would have witnessed. What issues of the day might have been discussed at the dinner table, or the local market as they unfolded? We can only imagine.

Let’s start at the beginning. Paul was born to Joseph Comeau and Marie Marguerite Chapdelaine on June 30, 1826 in St-Ours, a seigneurial community near the Richelieu River in what was then known as Lower Canada. After a career in the military where he rose to the rank of captain, Joseph likely became a tenant farmer as did many of his comrades, judging from census and parish records at the time. Paul was the 13th child of Joseph and Marguerite, and sadly the preceding three children born before him did not survive their first year. He had two younger brothers.

1831 map of Lower Canada
Lower Canada (Library & Archives Canada; MIKAN 4127087)

By 1831, Paul’s family was living near Ruisseau Laplante. His father Joseph owned property and leased 313 acres of farmland, 191 of which was cultivated. The farm produced wheat, peas, oats, barley, potatoes and buckwheat. They also raised livestock – 20 cattle, 6 horses, 26 sheep and 12 pigs.

The village of St-Ours was also growing. In 1827 it opened its own post office, and, in another decade, it will become the county seat for Richelieu, if only for a short time, later replaced by Sorel. Elsewhere in Lower Canada, immigration, primarily from England and Ireland was fueling expansion, and brought some new challenges.

In 1832 cholera arrived in Quebec by way of the Carrick, a ship that had come over from Ireland. Three days later, the first victim succumbed to the illness, beginning an epidemic that would last years. This prompted the opening of a quarantine station at Grosse-Ile near Québec, where many newcomers died. St-Ours was not spared, but the Comeau family seemed to escape harm. In 1834, between May and September, 46 burials took place in St-Ours as a result of the illness. Subsequent waves of the epidemic had a much smaller impact on the town. Nonetheless, public sentiment against immigrants grew along with the death toll in the province.

In nearby Sorel, Paul’s future first wife, Marie Françoise Mathieu, was born to Joseph Mathieu and Francoise Dallaire on March 29, 1835. Her baptism took place in the recently-built St-Pierre church in Sorel. She had four older brothers.

Next: Les Patriotes

by Janet Comeau, May 2018

Les Comeau de St-Ours

Tous les Comeau de la région de St-Ours doivent leur patronyme à un seul ancêtre, Joseph Comeau, fils d’Alexandre et Marie-Josephte Blanchard. Arrivés seuls dans cette région après la dispersion et souvent oubliée, la famille de Joseph était éloignée de la parenté établie dans les environs de Yamachiche mais s’en sont bien tirés quand même.

DE PORT ROYAL…

Commençons par Port Royal où cette famille vivait avant le grand dérangement. Nous sommes en 1737 à Port Royal, grosse noce au village, Alexandre Comeau, fils de Pierre et Suzanne Bézier épouse Marie-Josephte Blanchard, fille de Guillaume et Jeanne Dupuy. Deux frères d’Alexandre et une sœur s’allierons aussi à la famille Blanchard, un lien familial qui survivra jusqu’à St-Ours. Puis vint la débâcle : on croit qu’Alexandre et son aîné, Alexandre, furent faits prisonniers dans l’église paroissiale lors d’un assemblé des chefs de famille sous prétexte de discuter de leur futur. Le reste des familles, misent au courant de cette supercherie, se cachèrent dans les bois et évitèrent la déportation. Des groupes se formèrent et après un an ou deux, un grand nombre aboutirent à Québec.
Alexandre et son fils furent certainement déportés, le père probablement mort en Caroline. Quant à Alexandre fils, il réapparaît vers 1772 à la Baie Ste-Marie en Nouvelle Ecosse. De ces descendants vivent encore au Nouveau Brunswick et madame Thérèse Comeau de Matane en a trouvé qui vivent même ici au Québec.

…À QUÉBEC

Nous voilà à Québec, une ville en état de guerre, au bord de la famine, et en plus une épidémie qui attaque ces réfugiés Acadiens affaiblis par leur long voyage. Les Comeau et Blanchard semblent avoir voyagé dans le même groupe, Marie-Josephte avec ces cinq enfants, le plus jeune à un peu plus d’un ans et Joseph le plus vieux à 14 ans. Avant la fin de ce fléau le groupe fut presque anéanti, même la grand-mère, Suzanne Bézier, qui avait fait le trajet âgé de plus de 80 ans y succomba. La courageuse Marie-Josephte et ses enfants semblent avoir été pris sous les ailes de son frère Joseph, lui-même veuf depuis l’épidémie.

…À SAINT-OURS

En 1764, Marie-Josephte et ses enfants, moins Joseph, qui demeure à Québec, se retrouve à St-Ours où elle épouse un veuf de l’endroit, Louis Emery Coderre. Son frère Joseph est à ses côtés comme témoin.

Près de Québec, on retrouve Joseph Comeau à l’Ancienne Lorette apprenant le métier de fermier. C’est là qu’il trouve l’âme sœur, Marie-Josephte dite Maranda, qu’il épouse en 1766.

Des recherches intensives sur les origines de Marie-Josephte ne nous ont apportées aucun fait concret, seulement une spéculation, elle serait une orpheline placée chez un couple d’Ancienne Lorette, J.B. Maranda et son épouse Gely. L’année suivante, après avoir géré une ferme pour un bourgeois de Québec, on retrouve Joseph et son épouse à St-Ours, près de sa famille. En 1769 il reçut une concession de M. de St-Ours et le lendemain son frère Charles devient aussi fermier sur la terre voisine. Charles épousera une Plouffe et aura deux filles de son mariage. Il émigra dans les environs de Sabrevois où il élèvera sa famille.

Joseph se jette à l’ouvrage et en quelques années il est propriétaire de quelques terres. En 1801 fatigué ou assez riche, il se donne à son seul fils Joseph. A eux deux, ils possèdent des terres aux quatre coins de la région. Au lendemain de cette donation, Joseph fils unit sa vie à une vieille famille de St-Ours, les Chapdelaine. Il continuera sur les traces de son père et en plus, son union avec Marguerite Chapdelaine lui apportera plusieurs enfants, les Comeau de St-Ours. Il fut aussi occupé par la politique et la milice où il joua un rôle assez important.

De ces enfants, Joseph, époux de Desanges Allaire, semble être le plus prolifique avec quelque onze enfants, mais François, époux de Isabelle Valentin-Grégoire, le dépasse avec une douzaine. Pierre et Marie Mongeon avec huit enfants se maintiennent dans la moyenne. Paul, mon ancêtre, avec son épouse Marie Mathieu y va pour la qualité avec trois fils. Alexis, époux de Sophie Lavallée eut au moins onze enfants. Quant à Jean-Baptiste, marié à Lucie Benoît, on semble avoir perdu sa trace. La plupart des filles de Joseph et Marguerite se sont mariées avec des hommes de la région et tout compte fait, on peut affirmer que la plupart des familles de St-Ours ont du sang de Comeau dans leurs veines. Paul, Alexis et Jean-Baptiste ont trouvés leurs compagnes à Ste-Victoire. Paul, Joseph et François et plusieurs de leurs enfants, se sont réveillés à St-Jude lors du démembrement de cette paroisse. Alexis s’est bien établi à l’arrière de St-Ours, près de Ste-Victoire, et même aujourd’hui sa terre est encore entre les mains de ses descendants. Son fils Théodore fut un éleveur bovin par excellence.

Une des causes principales de la rareté des Comeau à St-Ours aujourd’hui fut l’exode vers les moulins de la Nouvelle Angleterre à la fin du 19e siècle. Les répertoires des paroisses Catholiques de cette région contiennent des pages complètes de noms familiers, y compris les Comeau. Mon grand-père et ses frères y allèrent, deux sont revenus et un y est demeuré. Mon arrière-grand-père, Paul, fils de Joseph et Marguerite, y est mort en 1905, en vacances ou en demeurant avec son fils Pierre. Il avait plus de 80 ans, il fut fermier, batelier au nouveau canal de St-Ours. À cet âge il ne devait certainement pas travailler dans les moulins.

Je suis né à Montréal et ma famille retourna à St-Ours lorsque j’avais 6 ans. Rencontrant des gens sur la rue, mon père me disait souvent « c’est un cousin », remarque qui me laissait souvent dans le doute. Comme ma grand-mère Comeau, une Grégoire, avait sept sœurs toutes bien mariées, après avoir leur déchiffré notre généalogie, mes doutes sur les cousinages disparurent vite.

IMG-20140629-00013
Maison familial a St-Ours

par Jacques A. Comeau, Décembre 1997