1860: The sad demise of Olivier Bouchard

Second in a series about the younger sister of my French-Canadian ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, who  emigrated from Québec to New York State around 1852.

When researching an ancestor, such as my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau, an unexpected path sometimes opens into the lives of collateral relatives. In this case, it was the life of Laurent’s younger sister Elise.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eglise_Saint-Eustache,_Saint-Eustache,_Qu%C3%A9bec,_Canada.jpg
Dec. 2012: Historic Church of St. Eustache, showing damage from the British military suppression (circled) and a memorial to the 1837 Patriots (right). This land-marked Catholic church was the likely site of many baptisms, weddings and funerals for my Charbonneau ancestors and collateral relatives. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Upon discovering in the 1861 Canadian census that Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard had lost her husband and two children in 1860 — which I wrote about in 1861: The widow Elise (Charboneau) Bouchard — I was moved to learn more about her star-crossed family.

Who was Elise Charbonneau’s husband?

Seeking details about Elise’s family life, and the name of her late husband, I searched the Drouin Collection of Québec parish records and found a marriage record for Olivier Bouchard and Elise Charbonneau — signed by her father (my ggg grandfather) Louis Charbonneau.

The record indicated Elise and Olivier were married in 1858 in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — about a year before their daughter Elise Bouchard was born.

Olivier Bouchard: A St. Eustache apprentice

To learn more about his background, I searched in the 1851/52 Canadian census for an Olivier Bouchard around age 20 — and found only one person of that name and age living in St. Eustache during the census year.

In 1851/52 Olivier Bouchard, 21, resided in a household of seven headed by Charles Bouchard, 39, a meunier [miller]. Was Charles his father? Possibly. He was 18 years older than Olivier.

However, Marie-Anne Parent, 29 — who was listed with Charles — was too young to be Olivier’s mother. There were also three Boucher toddlers in the household, suggesting she might have been a second wife of Charles — or that Charles may have been an older brother or other relative of Olivier’s.

Coronor’s ruling: accidental death

On the census, Olivier’s occupation was given as apprentice — perhaps a miller’s apprentice in Charles Bouchard’s facility, or maybe in another trade.

Either way, the term “apprentice” implies an occupation that might have been hazardous — a job where inattentiveness while mourning for his lost sons might have proved fatal for Olivier if his accident occurred at work.

In the  Drouin Collection, I found a record of Olivier’s burial on 19 December 1860, which indicated:

  • He was the spouse of Elise Charbonneau, of the parish of Montréal [where she was born].
  • He was from St. Eustache parish and was buried in the parish cemetery.
  • He was buried two days after dying accidentally, according to the coronor’s verdict, at age 30. [The circumstances were not given.]
  • Charles Bouchard and Louis Bouchard were named as present at Olivier’s burial.

Family support for Elise

More research is needed to fill out and confirm the full details of Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard’s family tragedies, and to shed light on the circumstances of Olivier’s death and those of their two children — research for another day and a future blog post.

But for now, this much is certain: My ggg grandparents Louis Charbonneau and Suzanne Marcille opened their home to Elise and her two daughters (even employing a servant to help with duties at the inn) — so she and the children had family to turn to for warmth and support in their time of sorrow.

To be continued.

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2 thoughts on “1860: The sad demise of Olivier Bouchard”

    1. I am, too! I found and and searched some digitized coroner reports from the time of his death, but his name was not among those listed. Hope to return to this research in the future.

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