French Canadians in Troy, NY: A Neighborhood Study
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many French
Canadians from Quebec migrated to
nearby New England and New York.
Most of the migrants were farm families
who came to work in the mills and other growing industries across the border. They
generally traveled from Quebec
down Lake Champlain to Whitehall,
then down the Hudson River. Families often settled together in
close-knit communities, thereby preserving their language and culture through their
Catholic churches, schools, and newspapers. These "little Canada's"
could be found in many cities throughout upstate New York,
including Plattsburg, Ogdensburg, Fort
This article will
explore 9 French Canadian families in Troy's tenth ward from the 1860's to the
early 1900's: Surprenant (Surprise), Demers, Gamache, Lamadeleine, Dupuis,
Morin (Murray), Lachapelle, Chevalier, and Lefebvre .
Research began with an in-depth look at the tenth ward census records. Family
relationships were also discovered through the published Catholic church
records of St. Jean Baptiste, St.
Joseph's, and St. Mary's in Troy (available at Troy
Public Library), plus obituaries, death certificates, newspapers (especially
www.fultonhistory.com), and a large probate file for Demers.
French Canadian Names
French Canadian names can be a challenge for genealogists
for the following reasons:
were many spelling variations of names, sometimes caused by record keepers unfamiliar with French
names were also unfamiliar, such as Narcisse, Octave,
Baptiste, Telesphore, Treffle, and Onesime.
of names (example: Surprenant = Surprise).
of dit names (call names) and nicknames. Dit names originated in the military and were used in Canada
to differentiate families. Many used one name for church records and another
for civil records.
Brick makers and
Others in Troy's Tenth Ward:
Many of the French Canadians in the tenth ward were brick makers
working at Alexander Ferguson's brickyard, from the 1860's to early 1900's. Ferguson
"transformed the clay hills of Mt.
Ida and those on Hoosick
street into good
merchantable brick, that entered largely into the construction of the public
and private buildings of Troy". There
was a 40 foot high clay bank that ran east to west along Hoosick St. In
1892 there were plans for a new brick plant on Ferguson's
property, and 15th St. was
extended at that time.
Alexander died in 1909 and the business was sold to Cary Brick Co. Most of these families did not own property,
as a search of Rensselaer County
deeds through 1895 found only the Demers name from this study.
Many families took in French Canadian boarders, many of whom
were probably relatives. Notice the many inter relationships among these
Henry Surprise (~1835
- >1877) [the name Surprise is a trranslation of the French Surprenant. It can appear in records both ways]
Andre Surprenant married Elizabeth Morin at St.
20 Nov., witnesses: Leonard Surprenant &
Natalie Morin [Is Andre Henry, below?]
Henry Surprise 25 teamster, b. Canada,
Elizabeth 18 b. Canada
[Troy directory lists Henry as brick maker on
Oakwood above Hoosick]
Henry Surprise 30 brick maker b. Canada,
Elizabeth 22 b. Canada,
Anna 4 b. Renss. Co., Melena 10 mo. b. Renss. Co.
Henry Surprise 38 brick maker b. Canada,
Libbie 35 b. Canada,
Anna 14 b. NY, Verbena 11 b. NY, Henry 9 b. NY, Edward 7 b NY, Frank 5 b.
10th ward: Henry Suprise 38 teamster b Canada,
Mary 36 b Canada
(near John Demers) [same Henry? If so, where are the children?]
Troy Times - the family of
Edward Surprise, the lad who was shot through the hand on 10th St. last
Sunday is said to be in destitute circumstances. They reside on Sausse St. The father is in an insane asylum and the
mother is also ill. Edward has no one to minister to his wants except a
Elizabeth Surprise 37 widow b. Canada,
Mary 18 collar shop b. NY, Henry 15 lab b. NY, Edward 10 b. NY works in
brickyard, Frederick 5 b. NY
Mrs. Elizabeth Surprise died 17 November. Funeral from residence on South
St., and St. Jean Baptiste
church. She was age 56 and had been ill for some time, resided in the city
all her life [obvious error]
42 Oakwood Ave.: (son)
Edward Surprise 29 brick maker (b. NY April 1871), Georgiana 25 button holer (b. Canada),
Joseph 6 (b. NY April 1894), Edward 1 (b. Jan 1899)
John Demers (1819-1900)
John Demerst 31 brick maker, b. Canada
- at same address as John Archibald 63 brick maker, b. England, Ann 66
& family, plus many other brick makers from Canada and a few from
Ireland (7th ward)
John Demers became trustee at St. John
the Baptist (French) Church, Troy,
16 December. It took the name St. Jean Baptiste
John Demerse 30 brick manuf.
Elizabeth 26 b. Canada,
Louis 5 b. Canada,
Maria 3 b. Canada,
Alice 1 b. NY, Henrietta 3 mo.
b. NY, Mary Cary 36 servant b. Canada
John Demers purchased land on Oakwood Ave.
from John & Ann Archibald for $3400. John Demers bought more land in
1865-1867. He & wife Onesime sold land in
1861, 1863, 1866 around Oakwood Ave. & Sausse
St. He also bought land in 1875 from Maxime & Odile Gilbert
in W. Troy, Albany Co. and sold it to Odile Cary
John Demers 46 brick manufacturer b. Canada,
Onesime 30 b. Canada,
Henry Guerin 6 adopted child b. Renss. Co.,
Jane Depuy [Dupuis] 8 mo. adopted child b. Renss. Co., Matilda Hould 22 servant b. Canada, Julius Hould
37 brick maker b. Canada, Mitchel Hould 34 brick maker b. Canada [the Hould's are probably siblings of Onesime
Houle, wife of John Demers - see footnote 8]
John Demus [Demers]
52 brick manufacturer b. Canada, Elizabeth 49 b. Canada, Jane 8 b. NY,
Mary 6 b. NY, Ellen Parmer 16 [next door to Henry Surprise family]
John Demers 56 widow brick maker b. Canada,
Mary 16 b. Renss. Co.,
Jane 14, John 13, Margaret Dervaux 46 b. Canada
servant, Peter Provo 30 brick maker boarder b. Canada, Peter Lafever 25 brick maker boarder b. Canada, Medos Provo 23 brick maker boarder b. Canada [Peter
may be Napoleon Lefevre, John's nephew - see
John Demers 60
widow brick maker b. Canada, Margaret Derwin [Dervaux] 50 servant, Meder
Demers (male) 22 laborer boarder b. Canada, John Demers 18 b. Canada,
Jenny 18 b. NY, John Rabideau 19 laborer boarder
b. Canada. The family is next to Jerome Houle,
then Napolion Lafav,
Charles Murray, Elizabeth Surprise, and Treffle Lachapelle [see below]
- 1880 Census
Schedule of Manufacturers, Brickyards: John Demers: $15,000 invested in
the business, 23 male workers, 2 children; they work 10 or 11 hour days
Eugenie (Jenny) Demers married Joseph Octave Drouin
12 January, St. Jean Baptiste, witnesses: John
B. Demers, Josephine Houle
Troy Times: John Demers charged
with stealing a watch from residence of Odille
Cary in 4th ward, pleaded guilty
1 March (28 Feb in probate file) on Sausse St. after a long illness, almost 80 years old. He was a
brick manufacturer for 40 years, came from Canada 50 years ago
Probate file - Letters of Administration, dated 9 March 1900. Administrators were William
Lord and Joseph Lefebvre. The estate appraisal listed Eugenie Demers Drouin the natural (but adopted) daughter of John Demers
& Philomene Corbee.
Eugenie was born in 1861 and an agreement was made with the mother through
Odile Carey that the child would be surrendered
to John Demers and that she would inherit his property upon his death. In
1900, the Rensselaer Co. Supreme Court adjudged that she was entitled to
the funds. However, the estate was in litigation for several years. The
following were named persons interested in the estate (many were nieces
& nephews): Eugenie Demers Drouin (daughter,
c/o Drouin & Drouin,
Montreal); Matilda Houle (sister age 76, St. Athanase Quebec); children of deceased sister Emelie Lefebvre -- Pierre Lefebvre (age 54, Cohoes),
Emily Gagne (age 52, Cohoes), Eugenie DeLisle
(age 46, Cohoes), Alaric Lefebvre (age 37, Cohoes), Napoleon Lefebvre (age
50, Troy), Joseph Lefebvre (age 43, Troy), Azilda
Lefebvre (age 48, Lachine, Quebec); children of deceased sister Rosalie Rouillier -- Rosalie Roman (age 48, St. Athanase, Quebec), Fridolin Bonneau (age 46, St. Phillippe,
Quebec), Azilda Dupuis (age 44, St. Luc, Quebec),
Noe Rouillier (age 40,
St. Phillippe, Quebec), Appolonia
Tremblay (age 38, Laprairie, Quebec), Melanise Houle (age 36, St. Alexandre, Quebec), Phillipe
E. Rouillier (age 35, Montreal), Fridolin Rouillier (age 30,
St. Phillippe, Quebec. Later in the file she is
listed at Lathrop, Missoula, Montana);
Lucrece Rouillier (age
25, Troy). Also listed was
Albert Demers (brother age 78, St. Patrick, Sherrington, Quebec).
Albert assigned his right to the estate to his son Albert Jr., signed with
his X mark 17 March 1900.
Albert died at St. Patrick, Sherrington,
Quebec 27 May 1921, age 79, husband of Eleonore
Vendal, sons were Joseph and Albert.
Supreme Court in Rensselaer. Co.
- partition of John Demer's lands. Many lots of
land in the 10th ward, some in the 6th ward; the sand bank lot in Brunswick,
plus lots in Grafton and West Troy
final settlement of estate of John Demers, 31 July 1902.
Jean Baptiste Gamache (1831-1904)
Canada: J.B. Gamache married Emelie Roireau Laliberte on 23
March. His parents: Marcel Gamache & Celeste
Boucher. Henryville is in Haut-Richelieu area of Quebec,
37 miles from Montreal
John Gimersh [Gamache] 30? brick
worker b. France,
Emily 38 b. France, Celia 10 b. France,
Clement 7 b. France,
Emily 3 b. France,
Frank 5? b. France [France must refer to French Canada. They are listed as
in other census]
Giemash [Gamache] 38 brick maker b. Canada, Emilade 38 b. Canada, Betsis
[Baptiste] 19 brick maker b. Canada, Celia 15 b.
Canada, Clement 11 b. Canada, Emeline 10 b.
Canada, Tilly 8 b. Canada, Mary 5 b. Renss. Co.
Dolphus? 3 b. Canada
48 brick maker b. Canada,
48 b. Canada,
John 22 brick maker, Celia 19 b. Canada,
Clement 17 b. Canada,
Emma 16 b. Canada,
Telly 12 b. Canada,
Mary 10 b. NY
Hoosick St.: John Gamache 68 (b. Dec 1831 Canada),
Emelie 64 (b. Aug 1835 Canada)
married 42 yrs., both immigr. 1862, + 4 boarders
25 Dec, buried St. Jean Baptiste
cemetery [see note 15]; obituary states funeral from residence corner of
17th & Hoosick and St. Jean Baptiste church
Hoosick St.: Amelia Gamache 62 b. Canada,
Agnes Faro [Perreault] 15 (niece)
Hutton St.: Emily Gamache 77 widow b. Canada
(mother of 7, 6 living), grandmother of Arthur Surprenant
25 conductor on street RR, b. NY (par b. Canada),
Agnes 20 b. NY (par b. Canada)
Edmund Lamadeleine (1840-1924)
Edmund Lamadeleine married Christine Daudelin on 28 May, St. Joseph's
directory: Edmond Lamadlein brick maker, Sausse
Marie Christine bapt.
22 June, St. Jean Baptiste. Sponsors: Louis Dumoulin,
Celina LaMadeleine [child probably died young -
never in census]
Edward Medlin [Lamadeleine] 34 brick maker b. Canada,
Christina 23 b. Canada,
Elsie Furtice? boarder 19 b. Canada
Mary Asella Elvin bapt. 9 April at St. Joseph's
[also must have died young]
Edwin Lamadline [Lamadeleine]
39 laborer b. Canada,
Mary 38 b. NY, Mary Rilke? 60 servant b. Canada,
John Borleow 24 laborer boarder b. Canada, Louis
Borleow 17 laborer boarder b. Canada
13th ward: Edwin Lamadeleine 60 (b. Fr. Canada
June 1840) & Christy 57 (b. Fr. Canada Aug 1842) (mother of 4, none
living) are Uncle & Aunt to Emma Lauderville
22 b. Fr. Canada and husband Eugene 31 b. NY, son Eugene 2 b. NY, daughter
Ire..? 1 mo. b. NY, and father Benjamin Lamadeleine
80 (b. Canada
Benjamin died 2 May, age 85, buried at St. Jean Baptiste,
wife's name Marie Landry [probably father of Edmund - no death notice or
Edmond 62 brick maker &
Christie 63 still living next to Lauderville
family, 13th ward, 3231 7th. He is citizen, been here 42 yrs. [immigr. abt. 1863]
Edmund in Troy directory
Edmund in Troy directory, 192 9th
died 5 April, age 81, buried St. Mary's Cemetery. Obituary from
Troy Times - Edmund LaMadeline died at the Home for the Aged,
member of St. Jean Baptiste. Survivors: Mrs. Zoe Garceau of Canada
and 4 brothers of N. Adams, MA - Joseph, Alfred, Wilfred and Lucien.
Paul Depre [Dupuis] 55 laborer b. Canada, Mary 48 b.
Canada, Dennis 22 stove mounter b. Canada,
Joseph 17 stove mounter b. Canada, Henry 15 b.
Canada, John 10 b. Canada
son Telesphore (aka
Dennis) married Esther Perrat 21 October at St.
Jean Baptiste, witnesses: Paul Dupuis, Hubert Perrat [Perrault]
Polion [Napoleon] Dupree
[Dupuis] 59 carpenter b. Canada, Mary 54 b. Canada, Dennis 28 stove
mounter b. Canada, Esther 28 b. Canada (dau-in-law), Telfore [Telesphore]
10 mo., grandson b. NY, Ele 10 grandson b. NY,
Joseph 24 stove mounter b. Canada, Henry 20 stove mounter b. Canada, John 18 stove mounter
son Henry died 29 November, age 28, buried at St. Jean Baptiste.
Parents: Paul Dupuis, Flavie St. Denis
345 9th St.: Paul Duprie 76 (b. Canada
Feb. 1824) carpenter, immigr. 1860, Mary 74 (b.
Canada May 1826) (mother of 12, 3 living), John 37 b. NY (June 1863) stove
mounter, Dennis 45 b. Canada
(1854) stove mounter, Joseph 42 b. Canada (1858)
Mary died 26 June, wife of Paul, survived by husband and son John
John Duprie, stove mounter,
574 6th in Lansingburgh; Paul is a boarder
- 1904: Paul died 22
June, age 85, buried at St. Jean Baptiste.
Wife was Marie St. Denis
Charles Morin [a.k.a.
(1843-1909) Known as Murray
in census and directories, but Morin in church records
Charles Morin married Rosalie Houle 26 Feb at St.
directory: Charles Murray, teamster, Oakwood & 10th
dau Marie Rosalie Morin bapt
30 August at St. Jean Baptiste. Sponsors: Julian
Houle, Martine Hebert
dau Eleanore Morin bapt 24 October at St. Jean Baptiste.
Sponsors: Andre Surprenant, Elizabeth Benoit
10th ward: Charles Murray 40 brick mason b. Canada,
Ellen 35 b. Canada, Anna 5 b. NY, Helen 3 [same family? - is Helen the Eleanore/Nora born ~ 1869?]
directory: Charles Murray, brick maker, Sausse
directory: Charles Moran, brick maker, Sausse
Sausse St.: Charles Murray
[Morin] 40 laborer b. NY [error] (parents b. Canada), Rose 40 b.
Canada, Nora 10 b. NY, Joseph Lafav 24 laborer
boarder b. Canada, Peter Lafav 30 laborer
boarder b. Canada
directory: Charles Murray, teamster, 12 Sausse
directories: Charles Murray, brick maker, Hutton & 16th
Eleanore Morin died 13 April, dau of Charles Murray & Rosalie Houle, buried at St. Jean Baptiste,
age 28y,6m [born 1869]
Charles Murray [Morin] 50 brick worker (b.
1840) immigrated 1860: Rose 73 (b. Canada
May 1827), George 10, Mary 7
Charles Murray 50 brick maker, Rosa 67, George 16 brick maker, Mary 12
- 1909: Charles died 1 January at 10 Oakwood, buried
at St. Jean Baptiste. Death Certificate states
age 66 [born 1843], father is Peter Murray, mother Leanor
Fountain, resident here 50 yrs. [thus arrived 1859]
Rosalie Houle died 13 March, buried at St. Jean Baptiste, wife of late Charles Morin, survived by 2
brothers, 1 sister, grandchildren George & Marie Morin, and niece Mrs.
Treffle Lashepell [Lachapelle]
30 laborer b. Canada, Anne 21 b. NY, Treffle 4 b.
NY, Anne 2 b. NY [next door is Elizabeth Surprise, next to her is Charles
Murray, then Napolion Lafav,
Jerome Houle, John Demers, and Edwin Lamadeleine, all on Sausse
Geage? Lesbell [Lachapelle] 49 brick
maker (b. Canada Feb 1851) immigrated 1867 (in U.S. 33 yrs. but not
found in census before 1880), Anna 39 (b. NY Sept 1860), Treffle 23 ( b. July 1876), Joseph 20 ( b. Oct 1879),
Mary 11 (b. Sept 1888) [reside at 30 Sausse St.;
Treffle Lachapelle at
30 Sausse in directory; Peter at same address; next
door to Charles Murray family]
Sausse St.: Treffle 55
brick laborer b. Canada, Annie 45, Treffle 29,
Joseph 25, Mary 17, + 5 boarders (brick makers)
Treffle 60 brick maker, A [Alberta
on Ancestry] 50, Treffle 34 bartender, + 2
boarders [Raymond Andre was baptised 5 August 1906 but does not appear
in this census [Treffle was mis-spelled
Juffley on Ancestry.com]
Treffle Jr. died on 28 May at home, 30
Sausse St. Survived
by parents, brothers Joseph and Raymond, and sister Mrs. John Kelly;
attended St. Jean Baptiste church
- 1911: Treffle Sr. died on
14 March, at 30 Sausse
St., born in Canada
60 years ago, survived by wife, sons Joseph and Raymond Lachapelle, and daughter Mrs. John Kelly
Death Certificate states age 60, brick maker, father is Colur? LaChapelle
Louis Chevalier married Rose Delima Larin, by Rev. Turcotte at St.
Jean Baptiste church;
also listed at St. Joseph's: Louis Chevalier to Rose Lorin
12 Aug 1855, wit: Francis Delorme, Fabiane Vinet. They had 12 children - the first 6 children
were baptized at St. Joseph's from 1856-1867; the
next 6 baptized at St. Jean Baptiste from
1869-1879. Some must have died young as 12 children do not appear in the
9th ward: Lewis Chevalaer 30 carpenter, Rose 24,
Rose 4, Ezekelie 2, Caroline 5 mo.
9th ward: Louis Shevallier 35 carpenter b. Canada,
Rose 29, Rose 9 b. Renss. Co.,
Mary L. 8, A. (fem) 7, Caroline 5, Malvina 2
Louis Charlin [Chevalier] 30 carpenter b. Canada,
Rose 34, Rose 14 b. NY, Exodocia 12, Caroline
10, Melina 6, Anna 3 [next to John Demers]
29 July: Louis Chevalier, a Frenchman fell in a fit on the corner of 2nd
and Ferry St.
yesterday morning and was taken to Station 2 where he was restored to
11th ward: Louis Chevalier 44, Rose 40, Exodocia
17, Caroline 15 b. Renss. Co., Movenia? 11 b. Renss. Co.,
Anne 8 b. Renss. Co.,
William 4 b. Renss. Co., Cora 8 mo.
11th ward, 2nd St.: Louis Chevalier 50 carpenter, Rosella 44, Carrie 20, Malvina 15, Annie 12, William 9, Cora 5, Arthur 4,
Lena 1, Rose 23, Dora Bellisle 21 b. Montreal (Dora
is Exodocia), Moses Bellisle
30 son-in-law carpenter, b. Montreal
directory: Louis Chevalier, carpenter at 60 Jefferson
"Peter Lefevre" 25 living with John
Demers family (above) is probably Napoleon, who is John Demer's nephew [see Demers probate file]
Napoleon Lefevre married Marie Edw. Robert 27
April at St. Jean Baptiste Church.
Witnesses: Jean Demers, Jerome Houle
Joseph baptized to Napoleon Lefebvre & Edwidge
Robert 22 April, St. Jean Baptiste (he died in
1896, age 18, buried at St. Jean
Marie Virginie baptized 31 May, St. Jean Baptiste (married Gregory Nold,
she died 1959, buried St. Mary's, Hoosick)
Napoleon Lafav 28 laborer b. Canada, Mary 21 b.
Canada, Joseph 3 b. NY, Jeney 1 b. NY
Napolian Lefevre 50 (b.
1849) brick maker, immigrated 1874, Mary 41 (b. Canada
July 1858), Jennie 21 (b. NY May 1879), Zodia 19
(b. NY Sept 1880) [lived at 8 Sausse
St. in directory; family was next to Robert
family: Cherie? 39 brick maker, Minnie? 36, 7 children... next to Charles
Pittstown, Renss. Co.:
Napoleon Lefebre 51? farmer
(in U.S. 33 yrs.), Edwidge 46 b. Canada
(in U.S. 43 yrs.)
Pittstown: Paul Lefeber 60 b. Canada,
farmer (immigr. 1880), Mary 49 b. Canada,
mother of 3 (2 living)