Thursday, May 31, 2012

Les Filles à marier 1634 à 1663

Les Filles à marier
1634 à 1663
Selon l'historien Jacques Lacourcière « De 1634 à 1663, plus de 200 filles célibataires viennent s'établir en Nouvelle-France. Prises en charge par les communautés religieuses, elles portent le nom de filles à marier.  En 1654, c'est la reine Anne d'Autriche, mère de Louis XIV, qui s'occupe de l'envoi d'une dizaine de filles à la colonie sous la conduite de religieuses.  Ces filles se distinguent des filles du roi parce que le voyage et leur établissement au sein de la colonie n'est pas financé par le roi de France».

Between 1634 and 1663, 262 filles à marier or “marriageable girls” emigrated to New France representing one quarter of all the single girls arriving in New France through 1673. They were recruited and chaperoned by religious groups or individuals who had to assure and account for their good conduct. In general, they were poor, although there were some members of the petty nobility among their ranks.
As opposed to the Filles du Roi who emigrated between 1663 and 1673, the filles à marier came alone or in small groups. They were not recruited by the state and did not receive a dowry from the King. They were promised nothing but the possibility of a better life. If they survived the perils of the crossing, they lived with the daily threat of death at the hands of the Iroquois. If they survived the Iroquois, they had to deal with the hard life of subsistence farming, harsh winters spent in a log cabin that they may have helped build, epidemics of smallpox and “fever” and difficult and often dangerous childbirth.
Crossing the Atlantic was a dangerous undertaking in the 1600s, and it is estimated that 10% of all passengers en route to New France died during the crossing. Sickness and disease were the main factors contributing to deaths at sea. Passengers were forced to share the hull with livestock that was either being shipped to the colony or served as meals during the crossing. While the passengers may have been permitted on deck during good weather and calm seas, storms forced their confinement to the hull where they were shut in not only with the livestock, but also with the odor of latrine buckets, seasickness and the smoky lanterns used for lighting. The climate and close quarters fostered the rapid spread of diseases such as scurvy, fever and dysentery. Under such conditions, very little could be done for those who were suffering. The method for dealing with the dead was to sew them up in their blankets and throw them overboard during the night.
The filles à marier chose to emigrate under perilous conditions to a wilderness colony because the advantages offered by the colony were great enough to make them forget the dangers of the crossing and rude character of colonial life. In France, the girls would have had little or no choice in their marriages because arranged marriages were the norm for the artisan and working classes as well as for the elite. Parental consent was required for men under the age of 30 and women under the age of 25. Young girls were placed in convent schools or pensions only to await a marriage in which they had no choice or to become a nun. In New France, these women could choose whom they wanted to marry and had the freedom to change their minds before the marriage took place.
Most of the filles à marier belonged to the rural class and were the daughters of peasants and farmers. A small number were from urban families, the daughters of craftsmen, day laborers and servants, while an even smaller number were the daughters of businessmen, civil servants, military men and the petty nobility. Their average age was 22, and more than one-third had lost at least one parent. About 20% were related to someone who was already a colonist. Most were married within a year of their arrival in New France. While waiting to find a husband, many of the girls lodged with religious communities –either the Ursulines in Québec City or the Filles de la Congrégation Notre-Dame in Montréal– although about 100 filles à marier lodged with individuals.
Peter J. Gagné has defined the qualifications to be considered a fille à marier as follows:
Must have arrived before September 1663
Must have come over at marriageable age (12 thru 45)
Must have married or signed a marriage contract at least once in New France or have signed an 
                enlistment contract
Must not have been accompanied by both parents
Must not have been accompanied by or joining a husband

[Source: Before the King's Daughters: The Filles à Marier, 1634-1662 by Peter J. Gagné. Pawtucket, RI: Quinton Publications, 2002. pp 13-38]

Two of my female ancestors (8th Generation Great Grandmothers -  Ann Le Moyne and Barbara POISSON were discovered to be Les Filles à Marier .

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Louisiana Patriot of the American Revolution- Pierre Frederick d'Arensbourg, Sr.

On March 15, 2012, Pierre Frederick d'arensbourg, Sr. was approved and is now recognized by the National Society Sons of the American as a Louisiana Patriot.  He becomes my family's 3rd direct lineal Louisiana ancestor (5th generation Great Grandfather) documented as such and will be forever remembered for his service and contribution during the war of independence with England.   

The Mystery of the Meaning of the Word "NOBLE" Discovered on Ancestor's Military Document

Pierre Frederick d'Arensbourg Jr.
My 4th Generation Great Grandfather's
Officer's Military Record

Every now and then as you do family history research, you may come upon a mystery that needs a little more focused attention for determining its meaning. I recently discovered one particular mystery while working on gathering documentation to have two more of my Louisiana ancestors recognized as Louisiana Patriots during the American Revolution with England. These two ancestors, my 4th and 5th generation great grandfathers, were both named Pierre Frederick d'Arensbourg  Sr. and Jr.  
Having to compile records to prove my lineal descent from each of these men was a challenge I was happy to take on. I had previously done so with another one of my other ancestors who was discovered living in New Orleans during this most interesting time period. Finding records that proved helpful in determining whether   these two men actually served was somewhat easy since both were military officers. One was listed as a French Army officer in several documents I found, and the other, his son was discovered to have had a Spanish military record established which I found in the Archivo General de Simangas (the Spanish Archives). What was also interesting in discovering this particular record was one word listed on his document “NOBLE”. Needless to say, I wondered what this meant and set out to trace the origin of such a title, now carried by a member of the 3rd generation from that of the Progenitor of the family and his Grandfather - Karl Frederick d' Arensbourg.  
There was another word listed on this record "de Carabinero" that needed a little more investigation into its meaning. Could this word also lead to a few answers that might help explain the title Noble? In a book titled   Honor and Fidelity: The Louisiana Infantry Regiment and the Louisiana Militia Companies, 1766-1821 by Jack Holmes he stated: 
By 1779, Bernardo de Galvez had created the snob-appeal unit know as the Distinguished Company of Carabineer Militia of New Orleans. Finding that the wealthy Creoles declined serving next to their own shoemakers and barbers, and refusing to follow Unzaga's policy of exempting them from service, he decided to organize a company of cavalry composed of the most prominent men in the capital and environs with Galvez himself as its Captain and Commandant so that they might enlist with greater good will. They were at first armed only with cavalry sabers, but Galvez wanted them supplied at government cost with carbines and pistols. In additional, he requested a shipment of saddles, bridles and other cavalry equipment. The first group of forty-nine men had brought their own uniforms and supplied their own mounts. Their uniforms were striking, consist of a fles colored jacket: white waistcoat, breeches, lining, collar and lapels: golden thread button -- holes: and gilt button.  By 1792, this outfit consisted of two companies of forty men each none of whom earned a salary except during military campaigns or emergency duty.
Granted, this additional information explained a little more about the rank or position as a Carabineer and also helped me to understand that such men with this title or position came from wealthy or important Creole families. However, the title of "Noble" was still yet to be solved. Then, I found another reference to the progenitor of the Darensbourg Family -- Karl Frederick Darensbourg. According to a book written by Albert J. Robichaux, Jr., titled German Coast Families, European Origins and Settlement in Colonial Louisiana:
1753, d'Arensbourg was ordered to settle German families from Alsace -- Lorraine on the German Coast. In recognition of this long and meritorious service in Louisiana, Louis XV, King of France ordered Governor KELEREC, the then Governor of Louisiana on August 1, 1759 to bestow upon D'ARENSBOURG the Cross of St Louis . As late as October 31, 1765 the crosses with their ribbons had not arrived in Louisiana. By March 28, 1766, the decoration has still not been bestowed upon d'Arensbourg.   

Could this have anything to do with Pierre Frederick d'Arensbourg Jr.'s use of the title of "Noble" mentioned on his military record? New questions now appear to have popped up. What happened to Charles Frederick d'Arensbourg's decoration -- Royal Military Order of St Louis? Did he eventually received it and would I be able to locate any documentation that prove he was indeed eligible to receive such?  The search continues.