From: "Elizabeth M. Quanstrom" <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2002 7:30 PM
Subject: [METISGEN-L] Turcotte From Libby's Cousine Judy
In the Spring or early summer of 1662 Abel Turcault left his village of Mouilleron de Pareds, for the port city of La Rochelle. From there, in the company with several young artisans and farmers from western France, he embarked for the New World. Like all sea voyages of those times, the passage was not easy. More than 150 people were crowded into the deck space of a ship, where they lived an animal existence for 2 or 3 months. Salted meat, wormy hardtack, putrid water, and 'mal de mer' the least serious of illneses, were their constant companions.
Abel recovered quickly, only to face the most seveere of the usually ferocious Canadian winers. Mother Marie de L'Incarnation wrote "In 1659, the winter was extraordinary in that nobody had ever seen its like, either in severity or in length. Moreover, at this time, the very survival of the young colony was threatened by the Iroquois. They became more and more bold in their attacks. The point of discouragement was so bad that the commercial owners fo the venture, The Company of One hundred Associates, had written off the colony as a disaster. Many settlers considered the possibility of returning to France. Our ancestor does not seem to have beenone of these. He decided to remain and gamble on his happiness and prosperity.
Abel at Chateau-Richer:
Demonstrating his confidence in the future of the colony, Abel Turcault settled in the fief of Lotinville, at Chateau-Richer, some few miles from Quebec.
He married in November of 1662 and the witnesses were Jean Cloutier and Mathurin Chabot. Abel lived at Chateau-Richer for only a few years. He worked the farm of Msgr de Laval, but then in 1666 he moved to the Ile d'Orleans.
Abel on the island of Orleans:
The census in the year 1666 tells us that he lived in the parish of Sainte-famille with his wife and 3 domestics. In the early days of the colony, in 1636 the island was conceded to Jacques Castillon. He did not develop it and the clergy acquired it in 1662. the land was very fertile as the Jesuits emphasized in 1663.
Abel practiced his trade of miller for a dozen years. He did his work so well that he was granted the title of "Master Miller". This recognition was not bestowed on every flour makeer, it was a mark of high respect for his ability. This title must have brought him some opportunities for success, because in 1667 he owned nearly 50 valuable arpens of land. In 1668, he acquired another concession in the seigneurie of Argentenay.
In 1675, the Ile d'Orleans was traded to the King's counselor, Sieur Berthelot. There was no record that Abel Turcault ever worked as a miller for the account of Sieur Berthelot. Instead, he was busy buying merchandise and livestock from Charles Bazire with zeal and reckless abandon that by 1677, he was in debt for more than 409 livres. Subsequently, Abel was forced to mortgage all his asets to meet his obligations. He continued to farm his land in order to live, but to help him get out of debt, the Bishop awarded him the laundry contract from the school and the clergy of the village of Sainte-Famille. As a man of honor, he spent the last years of his life doing other people's laundry to pay off his debts.
Upon his death, in 1687, he had accumulated enough capital to pay back his creditors and to leave his estate the sum of 84 livres, amassed by the sweat of his honest brow.
It was in such modest surroundings that the descendants of Abel lived in the 18th century; conditions which became worse in 1759, when all the inhabitants of the island had to abandon their home, their livestock and crops, at the command of the English, who would use the island as a base of operations. On their return, their houses had been pillaged, their animals eaten or carried off and the crops burned.
Our ancestors resumed their lives on the island and sought to repair and zealously reconstructed their holdings. So, in the course of the 19th century, we find the Turcotte families living there: Francois-Marc Turcotte, who married the grand-daughter of Seigneur Laurent-Mauvide Genest, and who lived in the manor house of the latter at Saint-jean; or that of Louis-Philippe turcotte, born at Saint-Jean in 1842. In 1859 he was almost killed in an accident on the ice-bridge to the island. Crippled for life, he occupied his time in serious historical research.
In addition to these two, we can mention Joseph Turcotte of Saint-Jean and Francois Xavier Turcotte of Sainte-Famille. They received special recognition in the form of medals, on the occasion of the tercentenary of the founding of the City of Quebec. The medals were awarded to honor these two agriculturalists in a family that owned the same land for two hundred years.
Today, we find the Turcottes everywhere on the North American continent. In the United States alone, more than 3280 people call themselves Turcotte.