Tag Archives: Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard

1872: Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard’s classroom duties

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

In the last post, we learned that by 1871 my widowed great, great grandaunt Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard had become a schoolteacher to support herself and her daughter, Eliza — and that they lived together at the schoolhouse.

Schoolhouse in Grosee-Ile, Quebec. Credit: Dept. of Public Works / Library and Archives Canada
Schoolhouse in Grosse-Ile, Quebec (1909). In 1871, My great, great grandaunt Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard was a primary school teacher in St.-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec — in a schoolhouse that was probably much like this one. Credit: Dept. of Public Works / Library and Archives Canada

I wondered about Elise’s day-to-day life as a primary schoolteacher, and my research led me to A One Room Schoolhouse, a wonderful website that details schoolhouse facts from Canada’s Ottowa Valley and beyond.

Schools in Québec, with its majority francophone population, evolved differently from those in the rest of Canada — their complex history beyond the scope of this blog.

However, the daily tasks of schoolteacher Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard probably included some of the following duties from A One Room Schoolhouse blog:

Rules for Teachers in 1872

  1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

  5. After ten hours in school, the teacher may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

  7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

Note: The teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

“Women teachers who marry…will be dismissed.”

Whittling pen nibs? Cleaning chimneys? Toting water and coal? No mere eraser banging for these teachers in the 1870s!

Of interest in Elise’s case is rule No. 6, which states in part, “Women teachers who marry…will be dismissed.” Although she was previously married, being a widow was apparently not an impediment to Elise working as a schoolteacher — even while raising a daughter.

But what would happen if she were to re-marry? Would she lose her job? Was the teaching profession only for young, single women to work in for a few years before starting families of their own — or for widows who no longer had a husband to help with household income?

Or were educational authorities flexible in their approach to these rules — perhaps applying them selectively based on the need for teachers and the ability of women (single or married) to fill this vital job for the benefit of the communities where they lived?

Either way, Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard was soon to find out — because in 1872 she began a new life with a second husband and a large, blended family.

More on this in the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1871: Primary school teacher Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard

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

My great, great grandaunt Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard spent more than a decade as a widow and single mother — and I wondered about her life during that period.

The Isles of Montreal as surveyed by French Engineers (1761). Click the image to enlarge, and at lower left of center you will see Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue, where Elise (Charbonnneau) Bouchard lived and taught primary school in 1871. Her hometown of Ste. Eustache lay just beyond the two brown mountains north of Ste. Anne. Image: Group of Archivists of the City of Montreal

In 1861, at the time of the Canadian census, she lived at the inn operated by her parents — my great, great, great grandparents Louis and Suzanne (Marcille) Charbonneau — in Ste. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec.

A move to Ste. Anne

But what about after that? I decided to see what the 1871 Canadian census might reveal — and found an Elise Bouchard, 33, living in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on the western tip of the Island of Montréal, right across the river from Ste. Eustache.

Although her maiden name is omitted, she is the right age to be Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard — who was 23 at the time of the 1861 Canadian census. And living with her is an Elisa Bouchard, 12, who is the right age to be her oldest daughter — listed as age 2 in the 1861 Canadian census.

Losing little Marie

Sadly, her younger daughter — surviving triplet Marie Bouchard, age 1 in the 1861 Canadian census — was not listed in 1871. I held my breath: Could she have died, too?

I turned again to the Drouin Collection seeking an answer. And there, in the 1862 records for Ste. Eustache, I found a death notice for a C.P. Marie Bouchard, daughter of Olivier Bouchard and Elise Charbonneau.

So poor little Marie lived barely a couple of years longer than her departed brothers — another devastating loss for the widowed Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard in the span of only two years and a testament within my own family history to the hard lives women faced in the mid 1800s.

Primary school teacher

Yet despite her losses, Elise was still a mother and she must have felt the push to provide for her only remaining child — daughter Elisa Bouchard.

Because by 1871, she was living independently from her parents and working to support herself and her daughter as an institutrise [primary school teacher] — likely a well-regarded career in a growing commercial town like Ste. Anne.

Quite a remarkable turnaround for someone who had to overcome so much. And Elise’s position took care of her housing as well. In the remarks section on the 1871 census form, the enumerator wrote: Elle demeur dans la maison d’ecole. [She lives in the schoolhouse.]

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence once told me that women of her generation (born in the early 1900s) generally did not go out and live on their own. They either married or lived with their family of origin — most likely because they lacked independent means of support.

But for the widow Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard, living with her daughter at the schoolhouse — and earning a living educating the community’s children — appears to have provided a way to for her to start over and live independently as a single mother while creating a home for herself and Elisa.

More on Elise’s schoolhouse duties in the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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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.

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.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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