Tag Archives: 1810s

The Last Canadian

In honor of Canada Day, I introduce my last ancestor to live and die a Canadian: Leon Chicoine, who was baptized Joseph Leon Chicoine on 12 April 1785 at St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the son of Francois Chicoine and Marie Elizabeth Tetreault.1

St-Charles-sur-Richelieu

“View of St-Charles-sur-Richelieu from St-Marc-sur-Richelieu,” 2014, Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Montérégie, Québec, Canada; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Tango7174.

Little is known of Leon’s early years. By the time he was twenty-five, he had made his way to Longueuil, located on the south shore of Montreal. It was there that he married Longueuil native Marie Varry on 17 September 1810.2 Their marriage took place at the impressive Cathédrale St-Antoine-de-Padoue in a ceremony led by Father Augustin Chaboillez, who, according to contemporary accounts, managed his parishioners with a firm hand. In fact, earlier that same year, he had a parishioner jailed for daring to interrupt his sermon!3

Leon and Marie did not remain there for long; they soon settled in St-Marc-sur-Richelieu, a rural community just across the Richelieu River from where Leon himself had been born. They remained in this area for the rest of their lives.4 Family lore states that Leon served in the military during the War of 1812.5 Then, twenty-five years later, war came to St-Marc when British troops defeated a number of Canadian rebels there during what is known as the Patriot War.6 Leon was in his fifties at this time; might he have participated in the futile attack? We may never know for sure.

Attack-on-Saint-Charles

“Attack on Saint-Charles 25th Novr. 1837,” 1840, Lord Charles Beauclerk (1813-1842); McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec.

In any case, the majority of Leon’s life was likely spent in a more peaceful manner as a forgeron, or blacksmith.7 He fathered at least ten children, including my ancestor Marguerite Chicoine, although not all survived to adulthood. Sadly, Leon’s wife, Marie, passed away before she was forty; Leon remarried to Francoise Desautels in 1829.8

Leon Chicoine would live to the age of ninety two. When his granddaughter recorded his death in January 1877, she noted that he was by that time the grandfather of fifty-six grandchildren.9 His burial occurred at his birth parish of St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, likely in the churchyard of the striking eighteenth-century stone church located on the banks of the Richelieu River.10

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Citizens of the Big Creek Settlement: From Reconstructed Census Records to a Legislative Petition

In September, I attended the Illinois State Genealogical Society’s free webinar, “’To the Honorable, the General Assembly’ – The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions,” presented by the always informative Judy G. Russell of The Legal Genealogist.1

Judy’s advice about how and where to find legislative petitions was helpful, as was her point that one won’t often find an indexed list of the names of all of the signers of a given petition (darn!). Instead, she suggested, look specifically for petitions that were created where your ancestor lived, and that concerned a cause that your ancestor was likely to have cared about.2

It was also emphasized how handy petitions can be when they fall between a census year.3 In fact, the names of the signers on some petitions have also been used to reconstruct early census records. I recently noticed an instance of this when searching for my Stilley ancestors of southern Illinois on Ancestry.com. My search brought me to “U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820.”4

In one example, several men with the surname Stilley are listed as having resided at the Big Creek Settlement, Illinois Territory, in 1810. However, a closer look at the entry shows that the men were named on a petition dated 6 December 1812.5 This petition concerned the desire of the “poor Industrious Inhabitants, faithful Citizens of the United States” to acquire land west of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a proposition for the sale of no more than 200 acres of said land to each male citizen over the age of eighteen, or each female head of household, for a cost of twelve and a half cents per acre. Allowing the inhabitants to acquire land, the petitioners continued, would further serve to “prevent Rebellions, remove animosities, Cement an union, and promote happiness” throughout the United States.6

Although, to my knowledge, none of these particular Stilleys were my direct ancestors, the presence of these names on the petition suggests to me that, at the very least, some of the extended family had started to settle in this western territory as early as 1812, perhaps paving the way for other members of the Stilley family to follow.



SOURCES
1 Judy G. Russell, “’To the Honorable, the General Assembly’ – The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions,” Illinois State Genealogical Society: ISGS Webinars, 2013.
2 Judy G. Russell, “’To the Honorable, the General Assembly’ – The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions.”
3 Judy G. Russell, “’To the Honorable, the General Assembly’ – The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions.”
4 “U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 December 2013); citing Territorial Papers of the United States, vol. 16, p. 274.
5 “U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 December 2013), entries for David Stilley, John Stilley, and Stephen Stilley, 1810, Big Creek Settlement, Illinois Territory; citing Territorial Papers of the United States, vol. 16, p. 274.
6 “To James Madison from the Citizens of the Big Creek Settlement, 6 December 1812 (Abstract),” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-05-02-0396 : accessed 3 December 2013); The Papers of James Madison, Presidential Series, vol. 5, 10 July 1812–7 February 1813, ed. J. C. A. Stagg, Martha J. King, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, Angela Kreider, and Jewel L. Spangler (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004), pp. 485–486.