Genealogy, Montreal, Quebec

The Decaries and the Prud’hommes

I have driven along Cote St Antoine thousands of times, through Westmount and NDG, without realizing my ancestors in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries also used the same route.

When researching one’s ancestors it is nice to find out where they lived, which city, town or area. In my case, the Decaries and the Prud’hommes can be located by the streets that bear their names. They farmed land in what is now the Notre Dames de Grace (NDG) section of Montreal. The Decaries have a boulevard and an expressway named after them. Prudhomme Ave is only four blocks long just west of Decarie and the street jigs and jags.

Jean Decarie dit Le Houx and Louis Prud’homme, two of my seven times great grandfathers, were some of the early settlers in Nouvelle France. They first obtained land in Ville-Marie as their names are on plots of a 1663 map.

Jean Decarie arrived from France before 1650. He was a stone mason and started quarries. He married Michelle Artus in 1654, after meeting her in Quebec City while there buying supplies. She had just arrived from France. By 1729 they are said to have had 82 descendants.

Louis Prud’homme was a brewer and a captain in the Montreal militia. He was another early inhabitant of Montreal as he married Roberte Gadois there in 1650. He was elected as one of the first wardens by the Sulpicians for the parish of Notre Dame.

The Decaries and Prud’hommes were two of 13 families granted land by the Sulpicians along Cote Saint-Antoine. Jean Decarie bought the first strip of land, concession 615 in 1675. These early roads allowed settlers to move away from the original walled city. The land grants were from the St Pierre River north to the mountain. The men began working the land while still living in Ville-Marie. They all had trades which allowed them to survive while they cleared the land, built houses and began farming. They were neighbours, friends and many intermarriages made them families.

For a time, the area was known as the “Haute Folie,” as those who lived there were fools to have left the safety of the walled city but these families continued to live in the same area for more than two centuries.

The land was on the south side on Mount Royal’s western summit (Westmount Mountain). It was good land for farming with many streams and wonderful views down to the St Lawrence River. They built their houses close to the roads and out of the wind,  not for the views.

The Decaries and the Prud’hommes became successful farmers whose land was passed from father to son and sometimes even to a daughter. In the 1731 survey, their farms were well developed and affluent with a house, barn and stable on all their properties. The Decaries were known for their melons. Musk or Mush melons, also known as Montreal melons, thrived in the perfect conditions of the area. There were also orchards covering much of the properties. Apple trees were common but also cherry, peach, plum and other tender fruit trees survived in the microclimate of the south facing ravines.

Intermarriages continued. My two-time great grandmother Sophie Marie Prud’homme (1812-1892) who married Barnabé Bruneau was the daughter of Jeramie Prud’homme (1766-1846) and Marie Louise Decarie (1769 -1855)

As the city grew, many of the farms were sub-divided and single family homes were built. Not all the owners were happy to sell their land. Although the Prud’hommes had earlier sold land to the church to build Église de Notre Dame de Toutes Grâces. Leon Prud’homme tried to fight expropriation of some of his lands by the Atlantic Railway. It was said to be “the most beautiful orchards in the country,” but the rail line was built. The first Decarie house was sold and demolished in 1912 by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to build a roundhouse.

After more than 200 years the farms were gone.

My great uncle, Sydney Bruneau, used to walk with his children around eastern NDG and tell them that they were walking on their ancestors land, and they were!

 

For a story about Sophie Marie Prud’homme and her husband Barnabe Bruneau https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/1040

 

References:

The Settlement and Rural Domestic Architecture of Cote Saint-Antoine, 1675-1874. Masters thesis by Janet S. MacKinnon 2004. Faculty of Urban Planning, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/80345357.pdf/

https://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/genealogie.aspx?lng=fr accessed Nov 9 2018.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography accessed Nov 9, 2018. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/prud_homme_louis_1E.html

La Patrie, 6 October 1888, page 6.

Notes:

The 13 original settlers were Jean Decarie, Louis Prudhomme, Marin Hurtubise, Jean Leduc, Rene Bouchard dit Lavallee, Joseph Chevaudier dit Lepine, Jean Cousineau, Honore Dasny, Jean Deroches, Simon Guillory, Louis Langevin dit Lacroix, Pierre Verrier dit LaSolaye and Antoine Boudria.

Two Decarie houses remain today, one at 39 Cote St Antoine and the other the “Pink” house at 5138 Cote Sainte-Antoine. The Prud’homme’s house at 967 Girouard near Rue St Jacques is also still standing. It was the first farm along Upper Lachine Road. The other house we can see today is the Hurtubise house at 563 Cote St Antoine. Marie Hurtubise married Paul Decarie in 1686.

Another Prud’homme house stood until around 1900 though then it was known as the Saint-Germain house, originally ceded to Francois Prud’homme in 1708. In 1892 the property was subdivided into 68 lots on each side of Lansdowne Ave above Cote Saint-Antoine. There was another Decarie property that stood until 1912. It was on the property first purchased by Jean Decarie dit Lehoux in 1675 but likely built by his grandson Joseph.

My grandfather, William H Sutherland was looking for a solid stone house before he bought 28 Arlington Avenue in 1922. According to his daughter, “his first choice at that time was a detached stone house on Cote St. Antoine Road but it wasn’t available; it has since become a historical monument.” Was that the Hurtubise house?

I wondered what Janet MacKinnon was doing now after this very detailed thesis and found she had unfortunately died Feb 4, 2011, in Montreal, at 54 years of age. Thank you Janet for your informative thesis.

Genealogy, Quebec

Barnabé Bruneau, Why a Protestant?

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Barnabe & Sophie Bruneau

Whenever I tell someone my ancestors were French Protestants, I always get the reply, “Oh, Huguenots”, but that is not the story. Francois Bruneau came to Quebec in 1659 from France and he was a Catholic. He married Marie Provost a Filles du Roi in 1669 and they began our French Catholic line. The family remained Catholic until Barnabe Bruneau had a bone to pick with the church and became a Baptist. The reasons why depend on who is telling the story.

Barnabé was the son of Antoine Bruneau and Josephte Robichaud. He and his second wife, Sophie Prudhomme, the daughter of Jeramie Prudhomme and Louise Decarie, lived in Sainte Constant Quebec. There they farmed, raised their children and attended the local Catholic Church. Barnabé owned a number of parcels of land, one of which was just inside the border of Sainte-Catherine in the parish of La Prairie. 

In 1856 when the church was collecting the tithe due them from his land, both parishes wanted their tax. Barnabé refused to pay the Curé of Sainte-Catherine. He tried to stop his tithe obligation, by telling the Curé he was leaving the Catholic Church, but they still sued him. With his lawyer Joseph Doutse, who had the reputation of being a great adversary of the Catholic Church, Barnabé went to court and won. With that, he decided to attend the Baptist church, Eglise Baptiste de Saint Constant. He was the first person in the St Constant region to convert to the evangelical faith.

Barnabé’s parents had already died and were safely buried in the crypt of the St Constant Catholic Church, so they were not upset by his conversion. His brother Médard continued to attend the Catholic Church until one Sunday the priest preached that Protestants were devils with cloven hooves, who worshipped Satan and didn’t belong to the true church. Médard came home from church and demanded to see Barnabé’s feet. When they were not cloven, he denounced the priest as a liar and he too left the church and became a Baptist.

As there are notarial documents about the court case this is probably close to the truth but depending on which cousin you ask you will get other stories. One was that the Bruneau brothers learned that the local priest had been “fooling around” with some wives while the husbands were working in their fields and so they left the Catholic Church and became Baptists.

There was another version for those who didn’t want their family to have been involved in any scandals. The Catholics in the area saw that their tithes did not provide for any schooling while the Protestant church was very interested in educating their children and had begun setting up schools. The Catholics in the area tried to persuade the church to start a school but finally, in frustration, the whole congregation walked out of the Catholic Church and joined the Baptist Church.

They certainly did become Protestants. The family committed themselves to the Protestant church as Barnabé’s son Ismael, my great-grandfather had the calling and became a Presbyterian minister.

Bibliography:

Bruneau, Ida. A Short History of the Bruneau – Girod Families. 1993.

Duclos, R.P. Histoire du Protestantisme Francais au Canada et aux Etas-Unis. Montreal, Canada: 1912.

Prévost, Robert. Mon Tour De Jardin. Sillery, Québec: Septentrion, 2002. Print.

Gagné, Jacques. Baptist Churches of Lower Canada & Québec Compiled and researched by: gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca

Photograph of Barnabe and Sophie Marie Prud’homme Bruneau taken by Ayers Photo-Portraits in Jersey City, New Jersey in the 1870s.

This is the link to a story about Barnabe’s son Ismael https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/1237