The Belangers of St. Ignace

 

 

This family, from Chrysostome Belanger, Sr. forward, does not appear in any genealogical reference work such as Drouin or Tanguay.  The reason for this may be that Chrysostome does not appear to have a recorded baptism.  For that reason, I felt it would be useful and beneficial to publish my findings.  Following this article are family group sheets for each generation that , to my knowledge, have not previously been published.

Copyright FCHSM, Oct 2000.  Reprinted by the author

 

As with most French Canadian families, the story of the Belangers of St. Ignace begins in France and, specifically,  with our progenitors François Belanger and Françoise Horlays.  Their son François (b.1612) emigrated to Quebec from Normandy in 1636 in the company of  Robert Griffard. With them came a few of the original pioneers of New France: the Gagniers, Cloutiers, Bouchers and Guyons, to name a few. 1   On  July 12,  1637, François took for his bride the thirteen year-old Marie Guyon (baptized March 18, 1624).  Marie bore 12 children – 5 sons and 7 daughters.  Of these children, their son Louis begins our direct line to the present day.

 

Louis was born December 18, 1654 and baptized January 9, 1655 at Quebec, and on  November 3, 1682 at Chateau Richer, Quebec, he married Marguerite LeFrançois.  The family settled at L’Islet where Louis became the seigneur of Bonsecours.  Louis and Marguerite had several sons and daughters.

 

Next in line was François, who, also became the seigneur of Bonsecours.  He was baptized December 12, 1686 and married Geneviève Cloutier on November 16, 1711 at Cap St. Ignace, Quebec.  Madame Geneviève bore 12 children – 8 sons and 4 daughters.  While François died at the early age of  41, the seigneuresse lived to the age of 70!  Quite unusual for the rigors and hardships of the eighteenth century wilderness.  Of  their children, Pierre-Paul continues this line. 

 

Pierre-Paul Belanger was baptized on May 4, 1719 at L’Islet, Quebec and was named for his eighteen-year-old uncle who also became his godfather that day.  He married Marie-Claire Fournier October 28, 1742 at Cap St. Ignace, a location 6 miles from L’Islet. This couple moved soon after their wedding down the St. Lawrence to St. Michel d’Yamaska, Quebec roughly 150 miles downstream.  Here they raised 3 sons and 5 daughters.  Of all their children, Chrysostome (a family name in the Fournier line) does not have a baptismal record at St. Michel d’Yamaska, nor was there one found using the PRDH.  His burial record shows his age at 48 in 1798 indicating a birth year of 1750,  moreover, his parentage can be verified through the same death record. The record indicates that the burial was assisted by Antoine Cotnoir son beau frère (his brother in law).   Antoine was the husband of Marie-Claire Belanger, daughter of Pierre=Paul Belanger and Marie-Claire Fournier.  Pierre-Paul’s and Marie Claire’s son, Chrysostome, Sr. continues this line.

 

Chrysostome, Sr. married Mare Louise Gaudin at Berthierville on April 17, 1776.  She was from Les Ecreuils and he from Yamaska.  The priest was not familiar with this couple and made several errors in recording the marriage act which can be confusing to the researcher.

 

Loiselle copied this information and records Chrysostome’s father as Pierre and mother as Anne Ferné.  Added to this confusion is that Pierre-Paul had a brother named Pierre who married Marie Bernier (Ferné = Bernier?).  The situation is clarified by following the baptismal records of Pierre-Paul’s and Claire Fournier’s children at St. Michel d’Yamaska.  The baptisms indicate the father as Paul, Pierre, Paul-Pierre or Pierre-Paul Belanger but consistently state Claire Fournier (or Fournié) as the mother.  Similarly, their children’s marriage records say Pierre-Paul, Paul or Pierre but consistently list Claire Fournier as their mother.  Of Chrysostome’s and Louise’s children, Chrysostome, Jr. continues our line to the St. Ignace Belangers.

 

Chrysostome, Jr. was born August 28, 1780 at St. Michel d’Yamaska and there married Thérèse Petrin on August 26, 1805.  Her family had lived in Yamaska for three generations.  However, once planted the Belangers could not stay put.  While Chrysostome was consistently listed as a cultivateur (farmer), his brothers Jean and Basile had been listed as voyageurs.  Basile married Louise Favre dit Montferrand at Notre Dame de Montreal on November 27, 1809 and Jean married Angélique Forcier at Yamaska October 16, 1809.  With grateful appreciation and acknowledgement, I learned through correspondence with Marjorie Peterson of West Allis, Wisconsin, that Jean Belanger settled with his second wife, Suzanne Bibeau in Brown County, Wisconsin. He went on to marry a third time to Théotiste Rivard Campeau.  He died sometime after 1870, probably in Green Bay.  Death records for Chrysostome and Thérèse were not located.  Their son, Antoine, relocated to St. Hyacinthe, about 20 miles southwest from Yamaska, closer by the same distance to Montreal.  It is possible that his parents followed them there as well.  Of their children, Louis Belanger traveled almost 700 miles to settle, marry and raise a family in St. Ignace, Michigan.

 

Louis Belanger, born March 22, 1809 in St. Michel d’Yamaska, Quebec was married at Ste. Anne’s of Mackinac on January 6, 1834 to Genevieve Montreuil (born March 1813).  Genevieve appears on the 1836 Census of Half-Breed Indians as being, “descended from Mississippi Indians.”2  On the 1839 Mixed Blood Chippewa of Lake Superior census, it indicates she is from Red Cedar Lake.  Similarly, her sister Angélique Montreuil Belanger says she is also from Red Cedar Lake.  Both women appear to originate from upper Minnesota.

 

Louis and Paul Belanger

 

Angélique Montreuil married Paul Belanger at Ste. Anne’s of Mackinac on August 4, 1831.  There seems to be a general feeling of acceptance that Louis and Paul were brothers.  But were they?  Louis Belanger’s parents are known from the marriage record at Ste. Anne’s of Mackinac.  Paul Belanger’s parents were not listed.  Louis was born  March 22, 1809 and from census records, Paul’s birth year is 1810.  The next sibling born after Louis in the Yamaska records was Antoine born  January 14, 1811.  These dates creates a window of 20 months between births, enough time for another child.  However, there is no child born of Chrysostome Belanger and Thérèse Petrin at any time named Paul, Léon, Napoleon at Yamaska.  (Paul is sometimes known as Léon in later documents)

 

Were they first cousins?  Louis had three uncles who lived into adulthood and subsequently married.  Jean Chrysostome married Angélique Forcier October 16, 1809 at Yamaska, and their first child was Jean, born November 5, 1809 (date is correct), the second was Marie Celèste born June 10, 1811.  Basile Belanger married Louise Favre dit Montferrand November 27, 1809 at Notre Dame De Montreal.  Their first child was Marie who died at the age of nine months on August 27, 1811, according to Notre Dame de Montreal records.  Antoine Belanger married Anne Balard at the parish of Notre-Dame de Rosaire, St. Hyacinthe October 8, 1810 and their first child was Marie Anne born there July 21, 1811.  No records were found to document a consanguineous relationship but,   several baptismal records exist where each couple acted as godparents to the other.

 

It is from these two men and their wives that the majority of Belangers, now spelled Belonga (pronounced Belongee), are descended in St. Ignace.  Louis and Paul both had children names Louis, Joseph, Elizabeth and Marie.  If is from Louis’ Marie that my line continues to the present.

 

Marie Belanger was baptized October 12, 1834.  When she was 15 years old she had a child with Oliver Henry Therrian.  Antoine Oliver Therrian was born February 23, 1850 according to his baptismal record from Ste. Anne’s of Mackinac. Antoine appears to have been raised by his maternal grandparents, appearing with them on the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses.  In the 1850 and 1860 census he was listed as a Belanger but in 1870 he is listed as a Therrian.  Marie married Joseph Hercule Menanson August 8, 1853 and lived next door to her parents with the children from this marriage.  They lived for a time in Green Bay and later returned to the Mackinac area.  Antoine’s father Oliver Therrian married Isabelle Lozon on January 31, 1853 and died four years later, leaving Isabelle with three children.  Paul and Angélique Belanger also had a child named Marie.  She was born December 17, 1838 and married John Wachter (aka Walker, Walkerton) on June 5, 1856 at Ste. Anne’s of Mackinac.

 

Antoine Oliver Therrian married Rosella Lajoice on November 4, 1872.  Rosella was a tiny woman and my mother told me she was known in the family by the nickname “Grandma Wee-wee.”  Antoine gave Rosella eight children before his untimely death on December 2, 1888.  Rosella had to wait a long time to be reunited with her sweetheart.  She died at the age of 95 on October 12, 1945 in Flint, Michigan.

 

Of the children of Antoine and Rosella, my great-grandmother was Josephine Lucy Therrian.  She was born December 12, 1877 and married Ignatius Benjamin Martell (aka Enos, Enais).  He was born on St. Joseph’s Island on December 17, 1864.  They were married  February 13, 1893 at St. Ignatius church in St. Ignace, Michigan.  Enais was a lumberman by trade, and in a lumber camp near Fiborn Quarry, northwest of St. Ignace, my grandmother, Therese Florence Martell was born March 23, 1913.  During the late teens the family moved from the St. Ignace area to Flint, Michigan, where the lure of better jobs, and especially the auto industry beckoned.   There, my parents were born as was I and my siblings.

 

Six generations lived and died in Quebec province, and the seventh made the leap to Michigan.  Ojibwa spirituality says that the seventh generation ancestor make the greatest contribution to an individual.  Louis Belanger was seven generations back from my generation and also the seventh generation on this continent.  What a pivotal person in the history of my family! 

 

 

 

 

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1 Drouin Institute, Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français, p. 136, volume 3.

2 1836 Half-Breed Census of Ottawas and Chippewas, see #356