Literacy was often in question. The ability of the census takers and English speakers to understand the French tongue as the French Canadians started dispersing in the 1800s made following their progress very difficult. English speakers wrote what they heard...hence the wide variety of spellings.
2. Were Urban/Urbain Tessier dit Lavigne and his brothers (?names) the ancestors of most Tessiers/Tacys in the region of northern NY, mainly in Franklin County - Chateaugay?
We don't know of Urbain having any brothers in North America. There were in fact several Tessier's who emigrated from France to Canada and there's no sign of any familial relationships between most of them. Urbain was definitely one of the most prolific progenators of Canada. Mathieu Tessier was the other major ancestor that others trace back to.
3. Briefly what the law suit re' reparations was about.
I left a pretty succinct reply to someone else earlier this weekend. You might want to pull it up ("Reality over the Place d'Armes lawsuit"). There were no active cases in the 1880s-early 1900s. Some may have been looking at other possible claims, as there were several other issues being litigated at that time. It was also very common for the banks to be executors of trusts and wills, so the money she remembers discussion of may have been unrelated to the claims over Urbain's land.
>>>>Also, what does "dit" mean? Does it mean "of"? And, if so, what does Tessier dit Lavigne mean? Where does the Lavigne come in. Is it a place or a surname? You've got to forgive me; I've been researching in Scotland for the past 3 years and "dit" has me confused. I'm used to Mc and Mac.
Dit and Dite (fem var) mean "also known as". This stems from the late Middle Ages when surnames were first being contrived in Europe. As I'm sure you might encounter in British genealogy, there were any number of ways that nobles and peasants alike would choose their surnames. In the case of Tessier-dit-Lavigne, it would mean that Tessier is the family name, but the individual was also called Lavigne. By analogy, it would be like a nickname that took on surname qualities. In today's vernacular, Urbain would probably be known as "Urbain the Grape Tessier". Sounds like a wine-o wrestler, eh?