Brave and Afraid

Called “Peaceful After Gardening” painted with crackling to antique the frame in 2006 by Wendy Harty. I loved the research into Brave and Afraid. The research keeps me busy while self isolating during Covid-19. And once again I take comfort in knowing that others have survived their own unknown and were afraid but very brave.

Claude placed her palm on the cold stones of the Abbey of Maillezais. She’d grown up here in this western frontier of Poitou, France. From her youth she recounted the stories she had heard of the hunting expedition with the young countess, Emma, where a knight was rendered blind after seeing a wild boar run into an abandoned church and hide under the altar. Emma and her husband, The Duke of Acquetaine had made the discovery of a holy place, forgotton and abandoned and left wild. Here on a mound in the marshy island, Emma was moved by her mystical wisdom to comprehend the boars actions as a sign from God that an abbey should be founded. Women were to be passive and submissive, but not Emma who was self assured, resourceful, a diplomatic mediator and holder of the purse strings. Emma’s son William V finished the construction of the new abbey.

Maillezais had gone through the Thirty Year War. It was a brutal time with first the Hugunots having control and then the Catholic Church of the area. The war ended in 1648 three years after Claude had been born. It had taken the lives of 8 million people through violence, famine and plaque. Now twenty years later departing this world in the same month the lives of the two people she cherished most, her parents Francois Deschalets and his beloved Jacquette-Elisabeth Chevallereau. Claude Blandina Deschalets was an orphan at the age of 22 along with her sisters Madeleine 2 years older and Elisabeth 2 years younger and impoverished.

Claude thought about her next birthday when she would be 23 years old, to be celebrated August 22, and she was both brave and afraid. Claude only hoped to imitate her heroine Emma in the New World she and her sisters were about to set sail for. In her future an unknown land, an unknown husband and even as she faced the fears of the unknown, Claude knew she had to be very brave.

The Carignan-Salieres Regiment arrived in New France in 1665, 57 years after Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec. King Louis XIV sent 1200 men, a full regiment, the finest in Europe, they arrived in June on board Le Vieux Simeon.

Simeon Roy Le Roy Dit Audy stepped off the boat. His life as a French soldier in Europe had been fairly difficult. His moral was considerably raised when he discovered Quebec City to be well stocked with food and supplies. The soldiers had been expected and were given a warm welcome. Stationed in the garrison, Simeon, was soon dispatched to the Richelieu Valley to build forts: Fort St. Louis, Fort Richelieu and Fort Sainte-Therese. They traveled on the only road, the Iroquois River. His title soldet-charpentier. Down river awaited mosquitoes and a summer that was hot and humid. Their lieutenant-governor decided not to wait and launched their first campaign against the Iroquois and Mohawk that first winter. Poorly equipped, few blankets, and not enough snow shoes, the campaign was a disaster. A second expedition took place in the summer of 1666 which was aborted. The last campaign took place in Iroquois territory. A peace treaty was signed that ended with two decades of peace between the French and Iroquois. New France was able to expand but one obstacle remained.

The soldiers were demobilized. The King wanted his colony to grow and to colonize with men who were comfortable with weapons. The officers were promised a seigneurie to encourage them to settle. The soldiers were also promised land, and usually they settled on their captains seigneurie with food and provisions for a year so the land could be cleared. 400 soldiers took the offer: Simeon LeRoy, Francois Paris and Jean Giron being three of them. They didn’t worry about an Iroquois warrior coming out of the woods and attacking their household but the winters were harsh and the challenge to settle on uncleared land substantial.

The obstacle was New France was populated by men: fur traders and trappers, soldiers and priests. King Louis XIV had a plan. He would support the emigration of young women, many of them orphans. Their passage was paid and they received a dowry of 50 livres, along with a small hope chest containing clothing and sewing materials. In exchange, the women agreed to marry on their arrival in New France, to start a family and help their husbands work the land. The “Filles du Roi” Daughters of the King as they were called, included the three sisters, Elisabeth, Claude and Madeleine.

The King wanted only girls of scrupulous standards and strong enough to survive the hard work demanded by life as a colonist. In the year 1668 the girls came with 80 other recruits.

The three sisters had survived the voyage, rough seas and the accompanying sea sickness. Claude, Madeleine and Elisabeth stepped off their boat July 3, 1668. They found themselves escorted to the Maison Saint-Gabriel, a large farmhouse which had been obtained by Jeanne Mance and Marguerite Bourgeoys who were Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal and had also founded the hospital. In total there were 774 Fille du Roi marriages and by 1672 the population of New France had risen to 6700 from 3200 in 1663. By 1671, a total of nearly 700 children were born to the Filles du Roi. Who Knew in our heritage that we had a part in the settlement of New France?

Simeon made his way up the path and knocked on the door of Maison Saint-Gabriel. Inside he hoped to find and marry his wife to be but first he had to get past Jeanne and Marguerite who were responsible for interviewing the male settlers who came seeking a wife. He had been baptized on Thursday the 1st of October 1637 in Ste Trinte de Creances, Bishopic of Coutances, in Normandie, France, Simeon Leroy dit Audy, son of Richard LeRoy and Gillette Jacquet. Creances, is a village about twelve miles northwest of Coutances, in the province of Normandy, France.

Claude felt rich with her dowry of four hundred livres, and her trousseau, both supported by the treasury of the King of France. The King had also paid the one hundred livres to the French East India Company for her crossing of that large water, the Atlantic Ocean. As a orphan she had meager personal possessions. Claude had watched as her travelling companions disembarked in Quebec City, then Trois-Rivieres and finally it was her turn with her two sisters at Montreal.

The process of choosing a husband only took Claude and Madelaine a few months, from July 3- September 3. The couple were officially engaged in church, with the priest and witnesses present. Because there was no one to object the records state their banns were only recorded twice. The marriage banns customarily were to be published three times before a wedding could take place, the colony’s need for women to quickly marry interfered and the third reading was dispensed with. Their marriage contract was drawn up which represented a protection for her, both in terms of financial security if anything were to happen to them or their husband and in terms of having the liberty to annul the promise of marriage if the man they had chosen proved incompatible. Simeon LeRoy dit Audy married Claude Blandina Deschalets 9 years his junior, on September 3, 1668 in the Notre-Dame Church in Quebec, New France. Her sister Madeleine Deschalets was married the same day of September 3, 1668 to Jean Giron, taylor. And on October 21, 1668 her sister Elisabeth’s contract for marriage was announced to Francois Paris, shoemaker. This wedding took place on November 26, 1668 with Jean Giron spouse of Madelaine and Simeon LeRoy spouse of Claude as wittnesses. The men had all been in the Carignan-Salieres Regiment together.

Claude’s hope chest was lifted into their temporary shelter at St. Joseph, Pontiac County, Quebec. In it were a comb, two coiffes (a type of hood), one made of taffeta and the other of gauze, a belt; a pair of hose; a pair of shoes, a pair of gloves, a bonnet, shoelaces and four sets of laces. These items were difficult to find on the shores of the St. Lawrence. The chest also contained sewing supplies, 100 needles, a case and thimble, white and grey thread, scissors, many pins, two knives, and cloth fine enough to make handkerchiefs, collars, wimples and pleated sleeves.
Claude became known as Blandina and rose to the challenge. With the wealth of food resources in the region, she was able to have many children and lived longer that her peers who stayed in France. Blandina and Simeon had their first child a boy named Olivier May 30, 1669. Her sister Elisabeth lost her baby girl Marie Madeleine born Nov 19, 1669 and died January 10, 1670. Elisabeth and husband Francois Paris went on to have Marie Madeleine born June 9, 1671, Pierre July 10, 1672, Marie Anne Oct 8, 1673, Elisabeth Dec 18, 1674 and Jean Aug 20, 1676 at Petite-Auvergne, Quebec. Elisabeth was named as godmother for her sister, Blandina at the birth of her son Pierre April 26, 1676. Nine of their 11 children were recorded born in Quebec, four in Quebec City, four in Charlesbourg, Quebec, one in Montreal ; the two youngest born at Kingston, New York.

Just before this date on March 11, 1669 the sisters, Claude and Madeleine were brought before the Sovereign Court. During their voyage to the New World, they had humiliated Francoise LeClerc another Fil Du Roi, spouse of Michel Refault accused of “mechancete and prostitution, of having had and gotten rid of an infant in the ship while en route to this country” Apparently there were consequences to gossiping and being mean spirited to another. Mechancete translates to wickedness or sinfulness. They were sentenced to apologize and pay a small fine.

The family settled from 1668 to 1679 on the River-Saint-Charles and built a frame house of 30’by 20’with two stories. His neighbours were his brother-in-law Jean Giroux. near the village of Saint-Joseph of Charlesbourg. They paid a form of taxation and rent that everyone on the seigneury would pay to the signeur. He stayed friendly with the Sisters of sthe Congregation of Montreal and did carpentry work for them, 100 pounds paid in advance. He leaves the area of Quebec for Montreal where, on July 2, 1679 he buys land which 2 arpents (acres) have been put to the plow and one to the pick. There they established hearth and home. Simeon continued carpentry and built cabins and on Dec 9, 1680, Simeon, citizen of Montreal doubled his land holdings on the Cote Saint-Francois du Bois-Brule. In 1682 he sold to his brother-in-law and he owned a house in Quebec with a cellar, one living room and a storeroom. It was after August 1682 that Simeon and his family headed up the Richelieu to Lake Champlain, through Lake George, down the Hudson River to the Mohawk Valley by canoe. Did he know he would end up on English soil? What about the language barrier? and the impending winter? His son Jean, went to live with his godfather and uncle, Jean Giron in St. Joseph, Charlesbourg. History tells us that the Leroys were not the only ones to slip southward about this time. Gov of New France wrote saying that over sixty “miserable deserters” from Canada were harbored by the English at Albany and at New York. These elusive fugitives from French authority stayed at Albany for 4 or 5 years. On Nov 28, 1682, Simeon’s son, Augustin, aged 11, was apprenticed for 6 years to Adam Winnie, a rope maker in Albany. Living in Albany would have had some pitfalls for in 1689 the inhabitants of New York were called upon to appear and take oath of allegiance to King William and Queen Mary. Simeon LeRoy and his eldest son, Olivier, defaulted in appearance. The oath contained abjuration of all Catholic doctrines and their default speaks volumes. Simeon ended his days a s a poor man. On the 1st of March 1708, the Trustees of Kingston gave Simeon a pair of shoes, a cord of wood and paid for the burial expense of his wife Claude Des Chalets.

Blandina and Simeon had these 11 children in 16 years:

Olivier as noted above

Jean Sept 7, 1670 stayed in Canada

Augustin Dec 18, 1671

Marie Ann LeRoy May 11, 1673 married Hugo Freer Jr. of New Paltz written about in blog Hugo Freer, the Patentee.

Leonard-Reni Sept 18, 1674 his name was mispelled in the Dutch language to Jonar Larway, lived at Scholarie, NY and had children named Petrus, Blandina, Cornelia, Simeon, Jonas, Jan or John, Maria and David. Many years later these children reverted to the last name of LeRoy.

Pierre Apr 26, 1676

Charlotte-Gertrude Feb 22, 1678

Jannetje or Jeane Elizabeth Mar 26, 1679

Marie May 2, 1681

Captain Francois or Frans , the youngest son of Blandina and Simeon, born 1683 at Kingston, Ulster, New York named after his maternal grandfather Francois DesChalets married Celetje Damen children: Blandina, Jan/John, Sophia, Simeon who married Blandina Freer his first cousin, daughter of Hugo Freer who had children: Maria, Elizabeth, Petrus, Celetje, Simeon Jr. who married Wyntje Jaycocks found in blog 40 Days and 40 Nights. Frans was assessor in 1719, 1723 and 1727-28. He was Ensign and Captain during the War. He and wife Celetje or Celia were early members of the Dutch Church; he was Deacon in 1720 and Elder in 1739. They are found on the 1709 Census of Poughkeepsee, north of Fall Kill New York along with 3 sons, 2 daughters and 3 slaves.

Sara 1685, youngest daughter of Blandina and Simeon married Johnannes Van Pelt of Staten Island. The Van Pelts were very patriotic to the American Revolution and one of their descendants was Mrs. John Jacob Astor IV a survivor of the Titanic.

The family moved to Albany, New York in the autumn of 1682. By 1686 they were at Kingston where Simeon Roy LeRoy Dit Audy, French soldier/carpenter, settler of French Canada died November 27, 1711 at Kingston, Ulster County, New York age 79. Also here on Feb 5, 1708 Claude Blandina Deschalets LeRoy, orphan, Fil du Roi the Kings Daughter, who helped settle the land of New France, died at Kingston, Ulster County, New York 57 years old.

Simeon and Blandina would not know that once again the family would flee from the Revolutinary War back to Canada when the French married the Dutch and remained loyal to the British.

Wendy, John Waddell, Olive Gibbs, George Arthur Gibbs and Lydia Wise, Hiram Garner Gibss and Mary Elizabeth Smith, Abraham Gibbs and Annie Sax, George Sax and Rachel Leroy, , Simeon LeRoy Jr and Wyntje Jaycocks, Captain Francois Le Roy and Celetje or Celia Damon, Simeon Leroy and Claude Blandina Deschalets, Richard Le Roy and Gillette Jacquet.

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