Here is the beginning of a documented history of the Tessier line:
[FRENCH CANADIAN AND ACADIAN GENEALOGICAL REVIEW, Volume I, No. I, Spring 1968, pp 175190.The original manuscript, in French, is the property of the Quebec Provincial Archives.It has been translated by Mr. G. P. Hebert.The author, the late Rev. Archange Godbout, died before its publication in the Memoires of the Societe Genealogique Canadiennefrancaise , Vol. XI, pp. 621.]
Urbain Tessier dit Lavigne was certainly one of the most prominent among Montreal's pioneers1 and citizens.Remarkable for his courage in defending the embryonic town against the unending attacks of the Iroquois, he deserved to see his name appear on the old maps which indicate the place Lavigne, and the bastion Lavigne.2The Rue StUrbain would further recall the location of the grant, situated outside the town, which Urbain Tessier had received in 1651 from the Company of Montreal. 3As to the arpent which he had received at the same time, within the town, it includedthe greater part of the present Place d'Armes, the site of the Bank of Montreal and the lots which Rue StJacques cuts through, to the east.The tourist can read, sculptured into a building block of the facade of The Royal Trust Company, Rue StJacques, the following inscription:
THIS BUILDING IS ERECTED ON PART OF THE ORIGINAL CONCESSION TO URBAIN TESSIER DIT LAVIGNE BEING THE 8TH GRANT MADE TO AN INDIVIDUAL IN THE ISLAND OF MONTREAL
Parents and place of origin
According to the censuses, Urbain Tessier must have been born between the years 1624 and 1627.4[The International Genealogical Index shows his baptism at Chateau-la-Valiere in 1624, in Indre-et-Loire.Jette’ says that he was from Chateau-la-Valliere, in Anjou.]His marriage act5designates him as:"son of Artus Tessier and Jeanne Meine" and indicates that he came from Chateau, in Anjou.6Four localities, at least, were known by this name in the diocese of Angers:ChateauGontier, Chateauneuf, Chateaubriantand Chateaux (now ChateaulaValliere.)ChateauGontier, at present the department of Mayenne, being the largest of the four, we would be very much inclined to believe that this is where Urbain Tessier lived at the time of his departure for Canada..
Arrival in Canada and marriage at Quebec
The first mention of Urbain Tessier in Canada is in a grant which was accorded him at Montreal by M. de Maisonneuve, January 10th, 1648.7The origin of this colonist, who came from Anjou, appears to designate him as a recruit of M. de la Dauversiere and he presumably had been living at Montreal for several years.If Tessier had accepted a piece of land, it was because he intended to settle.One of his fellow workers, established at Montreal since 1644, Michel Chauvin, had gone to Quebec and found a charming wife in the person of Anne Archambault.The latter had left at Quebec two marriageable sisters:Jacquette and Marie.It is not unreasonable to suppose that Dame Chauvin mentioned them to Tessier.In any case, in the autumn of that same year, 28 September 1648, the two sisters were married at Quebec, Jacquette to Paul Chalivou and Marie to Urbain Tessier.
Tessier may have been 21 to 24 at that time, but his little wife was only twelve years and seven months old, having been baptized at DompierresurMer, in Aunis, France 24 February 1636.Such a precocious marriage did not affect Marie Archambault's health in the least, inasmuch as she did not die until the age of 83, after having borne her husband 17 children.
The family to which Urbain Tessier had just become allied was to soon emigrate to Montreal, where its descendants have been outstanding in all walks of life.It was composed, on its arrival at Quebec, of Jacques Archambault,[born 1604, son of Antoine Archambault and Rene Ouvrard]farmer and wine grower in the hamlet of l'Ardilliere, parish of Dompierre, in Aunis, Francoise Toureau his wife, and six children:two boys and four girls.Denis, the eldest,was killed by the explosion of a canon which he had fired against the Iroquois8 , and it was the other son, Laurent who perpetuated in Canada the name of the family.Of the four daughters, the eldest Anne married (first) Michel Chauvin, then Jean Gervaise, after the firstmentioned had admitted that he had left a wife in France.The two following ones were married the same day, as we have seen, to Paul Chalifou and Urbain Tessier.The youngest, also named Marie, did later marry (1656) Gilles Lauzon at Montreal.9The history of this brotherinlaw of Urbain Tessier has been minutely related with the origins of Montreal.From this work10, the Tesssiers can learn of the milieu in which their ancestor lived.
Before following Urbain Tessier to Montreal, where he settled at the same time as his brothersinlaw Archambault and Chauvin, let us try to reconstruct his physiognomy.An act of the first parish registry of Montreal on 26 September 1657, tells us that Tessier was a sawyer by trade.In the 17th century, when saw mills did not yet exist, the rude trade of pit sawyer was in great demand and highly appreciated.The Montreal registries show many colonists engaged in this rough work:Jacques Mousseaux on 19 Feb 1661 ; Hugues Picard on 31 August 1661; Rene' Filliastreau on 30 April 1662, etc.We must attribute in part to the muscular exercise which his work required, Urbain Tessier's remarkable vigor which made him a formidable enemy of the Iroquois.As to whether Tessier exercised his trade, we can conjecture this by the fact that he successively constructed several houses and also by some contracts of sale.12Thus, on 9 April 1658 [Basset, not.] he promised to supply to the Abbe' Souart, pastor of Montreal, 200 pine boards by St. Michael's day [29 September] and 100 by St. Martin's[11 November] at the price of 150 livres [about 150 dollars modern currency.]
Expert in handling the lumberman's saw, the handles of the plow, and above all the musket we shall see how, later onTessier could not write; on several occasions, he stated he was unable to sign his name.This was probably the reason which prevented him from occupying prominent positions at Villemarie,13like his brothersinlaw, Jean Gervaise and Gilles Lauzon.14
Sobriquets of Tessier and his sons
Urbain Tessier bore the sobriquet of Lavigne, which was transmitted to his descendants.15Paul Tessier, his son, the godson of M. de Maisonneuve adopted a more flamboyant one:he called himself Sr du Chateau, whereas one of his youngest Jean used St.Jean.We further encounter a Martin and de la Tessioniere as sobriquets of two of his grandchildren.16
As wedding trip, Urbain Tessier set sail again for Montreal with his young wife.On the land received in January from M. de Maisonneuve, the energetic colonist had doubtless erected the house which will soon be involved in our story.It is there that the first child of the Tessier family was born 18 July 1649, named Charles17by his godfather Charles d'Ailleboust, Sr des Musseaux18nephew of the governor Louis d'Ailleboust. Like almost all the newborn children of Villemarie at that period, he was destined soon to close his eyes in death.He died and was buried 24 July, having lived only 6 days.
And then, fate seemed to favor the young couple.The Iroquois, bent on destroying the tribes of the Huron race, appeared to be overlooking Villemarie.Another child, again a boy, was born 5 February 1651.As godfather he had Paul de Comnedey, Sr de Maisonneuve, who honored him with his name:Paul, and as godmother, the pious Jeanne Mance.The crying of the child was soon drowned out by the sound of the alarm bell. On 6 May, two Montrealers "of eminent virtue",Jean Boudart and his wife, were victims of an Iroquois raid; the former was killed on the spot, and the latter was led away to be burned.Four days afterwards, at two o'clock in the morning, the same aggressors tried to burn the brewery and they set fire to the house of the two brothersinlaw Michel Chauvin and Urbain Tessier dit Lavigne.19
Ruined but undefeated, Tessier more than once took glorious revenge on his barbarous enemies.Here is what Fr. Lauzon has to say:20
"On 18 June 1651, four Frenchmen were attacked by a great number of Iroquois between the fort and PointeSainteCharles.These Frenchmen, in such small numbers, were armed, but they found no other protection but a miserable stronghold situated in the midst of a large quantity of felled wood, and there, resolved to cling dearly to life, they started to briskly fire at their assaillants.On hearing this noise, one of the oldest colonists, Urbain Tessier dit Lavigne, being the nearest to the place where the attack was being made, was the first to run there in all haste, with as much audacity as good fortune, passing through without accident, with unparallelled agility and speed, over all the felled wood; he got into four Iroquois ambushes, was in the line of fire without being wounded, finally arrived in the hut where he joined the besieged, and cheered them by his courageous act.21Having heard these shots, one said, `Shall we let them perish?'and they all ran to the combat as to a feast."22
15 or 16 more documented pages follow this selection and give a very comprehensive history of the family.