Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jean Rodrigue - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 6, "So Far Away"

I found it difficult to pick an ancestor for Week 6 of No Story Too Small's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge.  After much debate, I decided to write about my maternal 9th great-grandfather, João "Jean" Rodrigue.  I have documented ancestors in my tree that lived and died long before he did.  However, Jean fits Week 6's "So Far Away" theme well in a few ways:
  • We are many generations apart in my tree;
  • He lived far away from all of the places where I have resided; and
  • Finding him in my tree validated an old family story I have heard throughout my life.

The pedigree above shows how I descend from Jean Rodrigue. My mother
(living)  and I would follow my maternal grandfather, Andrew Joseph
Pampas (1923-1995), in this list.

Jean Rodrigue, son of Jean Rodrigue and Suzanne Lacroix, came into this world circa 1641, most likely in the São João parish of Lisbon, Portugal.  He is #3 in the family group sheet below, and it shows his birth as circa 1650.  However, more resources have indicated the former date as being more accurate.
Ancestor Chart for Jean Baptiste Rodrigue (1735-1803),
 my maternal 6th great-grandfather.  Excerpt from
Descendants of Jean Rodrigue and Anne Le Roy of Portugal-Canada-U.S.A.
by S. C. Henry.

São João Parish, Lisbon, outlined in red.
(Courtesy of Google Maps)

1495-1667 Flag of Portugal

His parents' Portuguese given names would have been João Rodrigues (as was his) and Susana da Cruz.  He probably chose to present their names, as well as his, with a French flair to gain greater acceptance after settling in New France.

According to The Rodrigue Families Association, Jean was a sailor by trade.  Around 1668, he arrived in Québec, from Portugal, where he likely continued in that line of work.  Also, once in Québec, he quickly became a landowner when Jean Juchereau granted him property, circa 1668-1669, on Rivière-aux-Roches in Cap-Rouge.  Jean continued to engage in land transactions in the Québec area through 1671.

Jean Rodrigue's land transactions circa 1668-1671.

On 13 October 1671, in Beauport, Québec, Canada, Jean entered into a marriage contract with Anne Le Roy, daughter of François Le Roy and Anne Bourdais, born on 19 May 1651 in St-Germain-l'Auxerrois parish, Paris, France.  Fifteen days later, on 28 October 1671, they were married in Notre-Dame de Québec (shown below is a close semblance to the church's appearance during Jean and Anne's era).

Notre-Dame de Québec in 1768.
(Photo courtesy of Les Descendants de Lazare Bolley.)
Record of Jean Rodrigue and Anne Le Roy's marriage as found in the
Québec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1627-1967.

A little over a year and a half after his marriage to Anne, Jean re-embraced a career in sailing.  As evidenced by still existing contracts from that era, prominent Québec merchants - such as Pierre Niel, Bertrand Cheney, and Vivien Jean - hired him repeatedly to sail for them.

Jean and Anne celebrated the birth of their first child, Marie-Anne, in Beauport on 7 August 1673.  Suzanne followed circa 1675, and then René - my 8th great-grandfather - arrived on 28 July 1678 in St-Michel, Beauport.  Vincent and Jacques joined the family, also in St-Michel, on 9 August 1681 and in May 1685, respectively.  With Jacques birth, their family was complete.  Two separate entries from the Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (Tanguay Collection), 1608-1890, shown below, document Jean's birth, parents' names, marriage date, the names of his wife and children, and his date of death.

Information of Jean Rodrigue and his family from page 525 of the
Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families, 1608-1890

Information on Jean Rodrigue and some of his family from page 25 of the
Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families, 1608-1890 

The 1681 Québec census recorded Jean as living in Beauport with four children and owning a piece of land measuring about ten acres in size.  Additionally, contracts show that Jean was buying and selling land again from the spring of 1686 through the autumn of 1701.  In 1709, he owned a piece of land in Beauport, which is illustrated in the map below.

Map showing location of Jean Rodrigue's 1709 landholding
in Beauport's 
seigniorial settlement.
(Map courtesy of Rodrigue Families Association.)

In February 1692, his eldest child, Marie-Anne, wed.  The rest of Jean and Anne's children married between 1699 and 1718.  Their marriages allied Jean's family with several other prominent Québec families, thus increasing his influence in New France.

On 30 January 1711, at 70 years old, Jean contractually donated his remaining possessions to his youngest child, Jacques, contingent upon Jacques' agreement to provide food and shelter to his parents until their deaths.  On 12 April 1712, Jacques nullified his father's 1711 donation to him.  Perhaps he did not want the responsibility of caring for his parents in their old age?  On 7 February 1713, Jean again donated his remaining possessions - this time to his sons, René and Vincent, on the condition that they provide their parents with housing, food, and care until their deaths.  On 22 March 1715, René died in Beauport at the age of 37, thus leaving only Vincent to oversee his parents' belongings and care.  Just over two months later, Anne Le Roy Rodrigue passed away at the Québec hospital, Hotel-Dieu.  In late summer 1715, perhaps to eliminate potential inheritance arguments with René's heirs, the widower Jean donated his possessions a final time to Vincent and Vincent's wife, Élisabeth Dauphin.

On 14 November 1720, Jean Rodrigue passed away in Beauport at about 80 years old, quite elderly for that time.  He had lived a long, eventful, and adventurous life.  His burial took place one day later on 15 November 1720 at La Nativité de Notre-Dame in Beauport.

And, with that, I circle back to the previously mentioned old family story that I was able to validate after learning about Jean.  I had heard my mom's family say throughout the years that they heard Portuguese spoken in the home of my great-grandmother, Margaret Eleanor Rodrigue Pampas Hunn (1904-1985).  When I started researching "Grandmother Hunn's" branch of the family, I did not know much about her or her history since I had not grown up near her.  I knew for certain that she had lived her entire life in the New Orleans area.  I believed she was likely of Portuguese descent, and I had heard her maiden surname was spelled "Rodriguez."  With those things in mind, I began to dig for more information on her family.

Grandmother Hunn at a Mardi Gras celebration, circa early 1980s.

Needless to say, given my limited and sometimes incorrect information, I had several false starts before I found the right path for her line.  As I continued my research and got further down the correct pedigree path, I told my mom and maternal relatives that everything I ran into indicated that our Rodrigue line was of French origin and that I thought the family must have an inaccurate history about Grandmother Hunn's background.  Then, I discovered Jean Baptiste Rodrigue, my 7th great-grandfather, in my tree and learned of a book entitled Descendants of Jean Rodrigue and Anne Le Roy of Portugal-Canada-U.S.A. that documented his ancestry.  When I saw the title of that book, I could not believe that the Portugal of family legend was finally staring me in the face just a few words after the Rodrigue family name!  I requested the book via inter-library loan, because I just had to see it for myself.  As I read that book, I was awe-struck that oral family history had kept alive - for almost three and a half centuries - the fact that our first Rodrigue immigrant ancestors did, indeed, come to North America from Portugal.  I am deeply honored to continue to keep that story, along with the influential Rodrigue family history, alive and well documented for future generations to learn and enjoy.  And, on that note, I will close this post by sharing the Rodrigue family coat of arms and the meaning of its components.

The official Rodrigue coat of arms -
"Advances confidently."

The edge of gules (red) comes from the Coat of Arms of Portugal. The azure (blue) color can be found in the Coat of Arms of Spain. The fleur-de-lis brings to mind New France, new Homeland of the Rodrigue. The anchor is for the occupation of sailor. The sheaf is for agriculture, the first occupation of the descendants. The steeple honors their attachment to the Church and to our ancestors' faith. The cross, of St. Andrew's style, determines four chevrons (triangles) for the ancestors and for the hopes and realizations of their descendants. The gold enamel means kindness, openness, generosity. The red color is a symbol of fieriness, keenness and constant labor. The blue color is for the sea, the sky and the water, for tranquility and body and soul's rest.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.