Some from Avoyelles and St. Landry Parishes are descended from Laurent Dupré dit Terrebonne and his wife, Marie Josèphe Fontenot. Two of their sons married daughters of Joseph Roy II and Anne Bordelon. Their youngest daughter, Eugénie, married Nicolas Bordelon II in 1792. One of the daughters of Nicolas Bordelon II and Eugénie Dupré, Caroline, married Dominique Coco II in about 1824. The story below is regarding Louis Leconte (Lecompte, Lecompte) Sieur Dupré, the grandfather of Laurent Dupré dit Terrebonne.
Louis LeConte (sometimes called Lecomte, Lecompte - Sieur Dupré) had emigrated to New France in 1668 as an engagé of Pierre Gaigneur. Although it is often indicated that he was only 13 years old at that time, his age/birthdate is in dispute. He had signed a three-year engagement contract in which he would be paid at an annual salary of 80 livres with an advance of 30 livres. He was to be employed by Nicolas Gauvreau as a arquebusier at Québec.
By 1672, he was living in Bécancour (opposite Trois-Rivières) but had moved to Champlain by 1679. In 1681, Louis was still living in Champlain, owned three head of cattle and 18 arpents under cultivation. Later the same year, he purchased the Terrebonne seigneury for the sum of 500 livres from André Daulier Deslandes and would continue to own it for the remainder of his life. The mere ownership of a seigneury conferred prestige and indicated social success. However, it appears that Louis might have been considered by many to be an absent Seigneur even though he would eventually own the seigneury for almost 34 years - far longer than anyone else.
Understandably, he first failed to re-locate to the seigneury or concede land to others due to its remote location. The danger posed by the Iroquois was obvious based on deadly massacres that had occurred in nearby Lachenaie. For the first 20 years that Louis owned the fief, the area north of Ville Marie (Montréal) was considered to be in the heart of Iroquois hostility. As a result of the Indian warfare, very few colonists dared to locate there. Therefore, although the owner of a seigneury was expected to inhabit a home in the seigneury in order to fulfill his contract, it was likely that this requirement was overlooked by the Intendant due to the dangerous conditions. Instead, Louis permanently settled in Montréal where he became heavily involved in trade and commerce.
In 1685, however, Sieur Dupré did hire a surveyor to establish the boundary of the seigneury with the intention that he would, eventually, be able to concede land. After the peace treaty was signed with the Iroquois in 1701, Louis LeConte began verbally granting land to a few settlers but he neglected to legally record these concessions and failed to collect the rent on the properties. By 1707, there were only ten settlers established along the river and a few others had established there by 1710 (map below).Terrebonne Seigneury overlay on current map
By this time, Louis' life revolved around his family and lucrative businesses in Montréal. The colonists living in the Terrebonne concession, however, likely felt that he was not providing them with some of the bare necessities expected from the seigneury owner such as the construction of a road, rectory, or chapel. Therefore, the colonists had to worship at Lachenaie and the chapel of Saint-François-de-Sales located on the eastern tip of Île Jesus. In particular, however, they demanded that LeConte Dupré build them a flour mill - something necessary to ensure their sustenance and survivability. However, Louis did not see profitability in the venture and, as a result, the case was turned over to New France Co-Intendant Jacques Raudot. Raudot found that LeConte Dupré was negligent in his duties as Seigneur of the Terrebonne seigneury and, therefore, granted the settlers the right to build their own mill. Unfortunately, the settlers did not have the money necessary to undertake such construction.
In late 1710, Dupré began documenting the verbal concessions he had made years earlier by formalizing the boundaries of each existing grant. However, the number of new grantees was almost null between 1710 and 1718 - only 2 plots of land were ceded. Dupré, finally, built a flour mill in 1714 (although another source indicates that it could have been built under the guidance of his widow after his death), but, sadly, Louis LeConte did little else to ensure that the seigneury would flourish.
Nevertheless, Louis appears to have thrived in Montréal in both his business and family life. On 4 August 1683, he had married Marie Catherine Rolland de Saint-Georges at Nôtre Dame in Montréal. Catherine was considered to be of upper-class and, possibly, noble background. As a result, she would have been expected to marry someone with significant social status. The couple had signed a marriage contract on 1 August 1683 but, for unknown reasons, the marriage contract was not recorded until 4 November 1704. In 1685, Louis was elected as 'marguillier' (church warden) at Nôtre Dame indicating a dedication to his church. Over the next twenty years, the couple produced fifteen children and made a home on Rue Saint Paul in Montréal. On the baptismal records of his children, his climb up the ladder of success can be seen. He was, initially, referred to as a 'marchand' (merchant) and, eventually, a 'marchand bourgeois'. The family likely lived an upper-class life.
Although Louis was involved in multiple business dealings, not all of his ventures were profitable. On 1 September 1696, LeConte Dupré entered into a trading society agreement with Paul LeMoyne de Maricourt (brother of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil) and his wife, Marie-Madeleine DuPont de Neuville, for a period of three years. LeMoyne's investment included all of the funds he obtained from a company he previously held (with 5% interest) while Dupré was given the same terms for any money he invested in the venture. The sole obligation of Louis Lecomte was to "make an inventory of all the years of the effects that will belong to a lad (?) society in order to know the loses or profits ...". Within a month, Dupré invested 8000 livres. Sadly, the company would not become successful. On 29 December 1703, LeMoyne's inventory of the community property he had shared with his recently-deceased wife, showed that the profits of the company amounted to 14000 livres while debts were 16710 - a loss of 1355 for each man. After LeMoyne died on 21 March 1704, the case was brought before the Soverign Council who ordered Louis to pay 49917 livres - a very substantial amount - with 5% interest to the succession of Paul LeMoyne. Although not successful in this particular venture, it demonstrates that the LeConte family had many more fiscal assets than the average family of New France.
Regardless of their monetary success, Louis and Catherine suffered devastating personal losses in their life. Seven of their fifteen children died by the age of 21 and, at least, two more died before Catherine's death in 1738. Two others, including Louisiana progenitor Jacques Dupré dit Lecompte, engaged west and were, possibly, not seen again by their family.
Louis LeConte was buried on 13 July 1715 at Nôtre Dame in Montréal. According to his burial record, he was 72 years of age which would place his year of birth about 1643 (thus the dilemma about his age at the time he signed his engagé contract in 1668). The succession opened after his death was quite extensive and remained open for years. It was closed some time after June 1723.
The widow LeConte held on to the Terrebonne seigneurie until 8 October 1718 at which time it was sold to François-Marie Bouat for 5268 livres. Interestingly, a plaque found today commemorating the Terrebonne seigneury ignores the ownership of the seigneury by Louis and his wife as well as ownership of the fief by François-Marie Bouat (who owned it for a 1 year and 9 months). Instead, the plaque commemorates the ownership by the original Seigneur, André Daulier Deslandes, and suggests that ownership was passed directly to Louis Lepage de Sainte-Claire in 1720 as though there were no owners in between.
On 9 June 1721, the youngest child of Louis and Catherine, Thérèse, married at the age of 18 at Nôtre Dame in Montréal to Raymond Babi. It was likely a happy time for the entire family - one in which they probably celebrated with friends and family at the family dwelling located at Place d'Armes and Rue Saint Paul. The ample LeConte Dupré stone home, two-stories high measuring 37 feet in length by 30 feet in depth with four chimneys, was located in an ideal location near the church and the hospital.
Three days later, the residents of Montréal were prepared to celebrate "la Fête-Dieu" (also called the Feast of Corpus Christi) but had to cancel the religious observance due to heavy rain. The decision was made to reschedule the fête, which emphasized the joy of the Eucharist being the body and blood of Jesus Christ, to the 19th of June.
On the 19th, the day of the celebration, the weather was, indeed, dry with a swift wind from the southwest. As part of the solemn ceremony, a procession was to take place from the chapel of Hôtel-Dieu to the parish church of Nôtre Dame. The Sœurs Hospitalières (the nuns who worked in the hospital) had decorated their somber chapel with multiple candles to create a beautiful glow for the worshipers - much like something that one would see in Rome according to their Monseigneur. As the parishioners left the chapel and headed toward the church, several arquebusiers wished to salute the procession by firing a volley of shots in the air from both guns and canons. In an instant, the world of these colonists would be forever changed. According to observations of Sister Marie Morin (original in french):
"... some unthinking individual fired a major gunshot into our church portal, which set fire, in an instant, to the roof of the said church and to the vault, which flared up at such great speed that many of our friends present at the time could not extinguish it, although they are quite able and knowledgeable. This caused the alarm to sound to alert people to come to our aid, as it was a lost cause. A good number appeared at first, but not for long, because the fire also spread to the house where we housed the ill and to our monastery from the roof of the church, which rose high and was covered with cedar shingles, as were the other buildings, which burned as quickly as straw, especially with the warm weather and windy conditions at the time.
Our sisters first worked with lay people at stripping the altar and salvaging the ornaments, and salvaged almost everything, except for the dirty linen that had been placed in a very heavy container and up on a second story, ready for bleaching and washing, which we would do once or twice a year, and which burned then and there, leaving only a few albs and surplices, white and small in number. (Note that linen was washed once or twice a year!)
The fire ignited everywhere; our buildings set fire to those of our neighbours who in spite of all their care and diligence could not extinguish it with water. The first victims of the fire were sieur Saint Onge, Mademoiselle Renaud, Monsieur Perthuis, Monsieur Francheville, Monsieur Radisson, Mademoiselle Després, Monsieur de Belestre, the old menagerie of our hospital, all of which had been constructed on lands to the other side of the rue Saint Paul thoroughfare, so that these houses burned at the same time as ours and created a fire that was frightening to behold. Nothing of this magnitude had ever been seen in Canada. The whole of the lower part of the city was consumed by this fire. There were one hundred and sixty houses, the most beautiful in the city, that were consumed by the fire; they belonged to wealthy merchants of whom a number lost some of what was inside them, while others lost everything. It was not that they neglected to take everything out of the houses, but that outside in the streets everything continued to burn, and even at the river’s edge, providing the opportunity for bandits to steal wherever. The zeal displayed by our sisters in salvaging what was in the church was so great that they tarried in taking out the most holy tabernacle and its sacred treasure of the Heavens and the earth. It was taken to the edge of the River by 4 laymen for fear that it would burn. Monsieur de Belmont, head vicar of the diocese, came to the rescue with a few of the priests from the seminary. He opened the tabernacle and carried the Holy Sacrament towards the place in the city that was in greatest danger, accompanied by women and children, since the men were all working to cut off the path of the fire, but without success. Monsieur de Belmont noticing that the presence of Our Lord appeared to be fuelling the flames rather than appeasing them, said aloud that he knew very well that God wished to punish his people and that the sins committed in that place were fanning the fire and inviting the scourge from Heaven, and he let them know that His justice was speaking up against us. The group of women followers threw themselves face down crying out for mercy.
The flames spread at an extraordinary speed before the south-westerly wind, which was strong; they then turned towards the north, where they did little harm carried by the wind. This confirmed the thought of Monsieur de Belmont, who carried the Holy Sacrament to the parish church, leaving the justice of God to take its course, and prayed wholeheartedly that pity be taken on his people. Monsieur de Lescoat, our confessor, did the same; so consumed with agony was he that he remained crying before the most Holy Sacrament the remainder of the day, making honourable amends to Our Lord along with those present in good standing. Madame La Decouverte was the last house in the fire’s path, which was so close that burning sparks fell onto it, but she, wiser than the others, promised God a considerable sum for the salvation of the souls in purgatory, and the fire ceased instantly."
Sister Morin went on to convey that the men who originally appeared to assist them in fighting the fire and saving their possessions soon left to save their own homes or to assist their friends and families who were living the same nightmare. Sadly, however, there was little that anyone could do to fight the incredible swiftness and heat of this fire.
Sister Morin continued ... "All of our buildings, which consisted of three hundred and fifty feet of solid and profitable structure, were consumed by fire in less than three hours. Our church bell weighing 300 melted as did our bell for observances; which had a sound and tone that was the envy of those knowledgeable on the subject..." (Source)
By the time the flames were out, as many as 171 houses and buildings were destroyed leaving entire families homeless. (The number of buildings reported as destroyed varies from about 130 to 171 based on different accounts of the disaster.) In addition to the homes of many of the colonists, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu chapel, the house of the Sœurs Hospitalières as well as their bakery and factory were also destroyed. Right in the middle of the destruction was the LeConte home and, like the homes of their neighbors, the stone house had burned to the ground. A short distance away, Jean Baptiste Charly Sieur de Saint-Ange, the widower of the deceased Marie Charlotte LeConte (Lecompte) Dupré, the oldest child of Louis and Catherine, also lost his home in the fire. His home was also two stories high, 30 feet in length and 40 feet in depth with four chimneys. It was located on Place d'Armes.
(NOTE: This map is somewhat confusing. There is no legend/description on the map (including the paragraph on the right side of the map) which explains the difference between the items outlined in red vs. those totally colored in red although I've seen several descriptions of the map which simply indicate that all the items in red represent the burned structures. However, the map, supposedly, represents the burned locations combined with plans for rebuilding the town after the fire. We know that L'eglise Nôtre Dame, clearly identified at the top of the map, did not burn in the 1721 fire. Therefore, this would tend to make me believe that the buildings outlined in red represent the structures which were totally destroyed while the structures in solid red were, possibly, damaged but not destroyed. This could account for the discrepancies in the number of buildings destroyed in various accounts of the fire's aftermath.)
This is a list of burned buildings that was developed after the fire. It is unclear if this is the entire list since some sources indicate that as many as 171 buildings/homes were destroyed. This list only contains 126 structures.
*The remainder of this listing is taken from the rough draft.*
[Source: Article written by Lucille Fournier Rock in the Winter 1984 issue of "Je Me Souviens" (publication of the American-French Genealogical Society)]
Paul Bouchard (son of François Étienne Bouchard and Marguerite Boissel) and his wife, Louise LeBlanc (daughter of Leonard Leblanc II and Marie Riton) also suffered a heavy loss in the fire. Paul was the brother of Louisiana ancestor Marie-Anne Bouchard, wife of Jean Roy II. Louise LeBlanc was the sister of another Louisiana ancestor, Marguerite LeBlanc (wife of Pierre Marie Bazin). The couple lost one wooden house, two stories high, 10 feet in frontage by 18 feet in depth with one chimney. They also lost a second house made of wood, two stories height, 36 feet in length by 28 feet in depth with two chimneys. In addition, they lost a bakery that was 16 feet in length by 18 feet in depth with one chimney.
Interestingly, about a month before the disaster in May 1721, Michel Bégon de la Picardière, intendant of New France, had passed an ordinance prohibiting shooting in Montréal or near the country buildings, in order to prevent fires. After the fire, however, additional measures were adopted to prohibit the construction of wooden houses within the city walls (instead, requiring the use of stone), the erection of fire walls, and the distribution ladders, buckets, shovels, iron hooks and hand rams to the inhabitants. A brigade of volunteers consisting of masons, carpenters, roofers was also formed to assist in fighting fires.
On 8 February 1722, almost eight months after losing her home, Marie Catherine Rolland de Saint-Georges made a request before the tribunal to obtain the authorization to sell the land and remains of her home situated on Rue Saint-Paul and Place d'Armes. Since the fire, she had, probably, been living with one of her adult children since there was no indication that the homes of her few remaining children had been destroyed. However, the name "Conte Dupré" does appears on a map entitled Plan de Montréal de 1724 à 1760 (portion of the map below) and indicates that "Conte Dupré" had become a habitant in 1732 at the location labeled as "440". Unfortunately, we'll never know if this was a reference to the widow LeConte - our ancestor - or one of her children or grandchildren.
Marie Catherine Rolland de Saint-Georges, the widow LeConte died on 2 April 1738 and her burial was recorded the following day at Nôtre Dame in Montréal. She had outlived her husband by almost 23 years.
Note: There was another fire in Montréal in 1734 which destroyed 45 homes on Rue Saint-Paul as well as a hospital. It was, purportedly, started by a slave named Marie-Josèphe dite Angélique who was tried and executed for the crime. Click here if you'd like to read about it.