Louisiana Ancestors and The Founding of Montréal

Plaque: "Noms des premiers colons de Montreal" / "Names of first settlers of Montréal"

The names of Augustin Hébert dit Jolicoeur and his wife, Adrienne DuVivier, can be found on the top section, left-side of the plaque above. They were the great-grandparents of Louisiana progenitor, Joseph Joffrion I, spouse of Marie Jeanne Rabalais. Also, the name of Leonard Lucos (Lucot, Lucault) dit Barbot (Barbeau) can be found on the bottom section, left-side of the plaque. He was the first husband of Barbe Poisson. Lucos dit Barbot died on 20 June 1651 - two days after he was severely wounded by the Iroquois. Barbe Poisson then married for a 2nd time five months later to Gabriel Celle dit Duclos, Sieur du Sailly. Barbe and Gabriel are the ancestors of the Desselle(s) family of Avoyelles. The plaque is one of four on The Pioneers Monument Obelisk located at Place d'Youville and Rue de Callière in Montréal. Augustin and Adrienne are identified on this plaque as two of the people who arrived there between May and August 1642 and are considered to be among the original settlers of Montréal (more about them at bottom of the page). Lucos dit Barbot was also one of the original settlers who arrived between August and December 1642.

Montréal was settled on 17 May 1642 by approximately 50 colonists who had been recruited on behalf of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to establish a community in New France in honor of the Virgin Mary. They named their new settlement, located on a 760-foot hill near the convergence of the Saint-Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, 'Ville-Marie'. Their goal for the village was to spread the word of God and convert the natives to Catholicism thus creating a perfect Catholic society. The group was commanded by Paul de Chomeday, Sieur de Maisonneuve, who possessed valuable military experience and was considered to be an honest and moral man with strong religious beliefs. Sieur de Maisonneuve became the first Governor of Montréal.

Prior to arriving in Ville-Marie, the new colonists had spent the winter months in Québec after spending months at sea during their voyage from France. Numerous authorities in Québec had warned Sieur de Maisonneuve of the dangers the group were likely to encounter in their new colony - especially from the Iroquois. The group was encouraged, instead, to settle on Île d'Orléans - a much safer alternative. However, confident in both their faith and their mission, they decided to forge ahead with their maiden journey.

One of the volunteers who arrived with Sieur de Maisonneuve and the colonists was a 34-year-old French nurse by the name of Jeanne Mance. Mance's tenacious, persevering and devout personality drove her desire to found a hospital in Montréal similar to the one in Québec. Although she initially opened the hospital in her home shortly after arriving in the new colony, by 1645, she was able to secure a donation from benefactor Angélique Faure de Bullion which allowed her to build the first hospital at Ville-Marie on Rue Saint-Paul - Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal.

In the early days of the new settlement, the colonists lived in tents as they built a fort to protect themselves from those who meant to harm them. At the same time, they began to develop an alliance with the Algonquin Indians and, within months of their arrival, the Ville-Marie residents began baptizing the Algonquins into the Catholic faith. By the time winter arrived, the colonists had built a strong wall fortification, a large temporary residence for the new Governor and Jeanne Mance, and four small houses for the remainder of the residents. The future of the religious community appeared promising.

However, the Iroquois were outraged to see this settlement and others along the Saint-Lawrence which, they felt, threatened their trade routes. They had become dependent on the European fur trade via their alliance with the Dutch and they felt that their livelihood was being destroyed by the encroachment of the French. The Iroquois had been provided firearms by the Dutch and had used those arms to raid non-allied tribes in the 1620s and 30s. In some instances, they had been able to force their enemies to abandon their respective lands and move to safer ground. In the early 1640s, the Five Nations of the Iroquois - the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca - began to turn their attention to the French settlements with the same objective - destroy them or force them to abandon their settlements.

Shortly after the one-year anniversary of the founding of Ville-Marie, the Iroquois attacked. On 9 June 1643, they surprised six Frenchmen hewing timber. Three of the Frenchmen were killed - Guillaume Boissier, Bernard Berte (Boete) and Pierre LaForest. Their burials were the first three recorded in the Montréal burial register (below). Three others were taken as prisoners - likely suffering a fate beyond comprehension. The three murdered men who had only arrived in the late summer or fall of 1642, became the first three French burials recorded at Montréal. Their names appear on the founder's plaque on The Pioneers Monument Obelisk.

The first three entries on the second page of the Montréal burial register contained three more victims who were killed by the Iroquois in 1644. Although all three men were killed on the same day, two of the bodies remained in the woods for four days because the colonists knew that any attempt to retrieve the bodies would be met with additional attacks by the Iroquois who were laying in wait.

Prior to 1649, the Iroquois threat had been sporadic. However, the period beginning in 1650 was one of open war. The situation became so critical that Maisonneuve traveled to France to beg the King for help. In 1653, to confront this Iroquois danger, a group of slightly more than 100 settler-soldiers were recruited to moved to Ville-Marie and assist in saving the fledgling colony. These new settlers were part of, what is now called, La Grande Recrue de 1653. With them were 14 young marriageable girls, the Filles à mariers, who were placed under the care of a woman named Marguerite Bourgeoys. Shortly after her arrival, Marguerite opened the first school in a old stone barn and would, eventually, form the religious community of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal


Rough times for the colony would continue, however. By 1685, more than forty years after its founding, Ville-Marie only had a population of some 600 colonists. The primary reason for this was the risk posed by the Iroquois. Not until 1701 did the settlers and the indigenous people agree to a lasting peace.

Augustin Hébert dit Jolicoeur was, indeed, one of the original settlers of Ville-Marie’. However, despite the fact that Adrienne DuVivier was listed on the The Pioneers Monument Obelisk plaque with him, she not in Montréal at the time of the founding. Some time prior to January 1646, Augustin traveled back to France and married Adrienne. The couple signed a marriage contract in Paris on 13 January 1646. Their first child, Louisiana ancestor, Jeanne Hébert, is believed to have been born there. Based on two other documents involving Hébert, we know that the family was still in France in late May 1647. On 2 May 1647, Hébert signed a contract with René Pigneau at La Rochelle in which he hired Pigneau to travel to Montréal to work for him as a carpenter. Hébert was a stone mason and he and Pigneau would eventually build the homes of numerous settlers. Later the same month, on 23 May 1647, he signed an agreement in La Rochelle to have 'goods and commodities' purchased by him at La Rochelle transported to Québec City. This was likely being done in preparation for the return of Hébert and his family to New France. The couple were back in New France by 15 January 1649. On that date, the couple baptized their second child, Pauline, in Montréal. In 1660, daughter Jeanne married Jacques Milot dit Laval and their daughter, Catherine, maried into the Geoffrion (Joffrion) family. Catherine became the mother of Joseph Joffrion I - the first Joffrion to Louisiana.

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