Tag Archives: baptism

Was Suzanne Nepveu a Meti child?

PH raised this question a while back. I still don’t have the definitive answer but think that Suzanne probably wasn’t the daughter of an European-native union because of the conventions I see used in the documents surrounding her birth.

During the 1650s when Suzanne was born, the Jesuits operated a native reserve at Sillery.  The reserve bordered the St. Lawrence River and consisted of a stone fort that surrounded the Jesuit residences, their oven, their brewery, and their chapel — and the Terres des Sauvages where Christian Indians lived.  Behind the native lands, the Ursaline nuns ran a school and medical clinic.  In the 1650s, Europeans were given permission to settle to the west of the mission as a buffer against Iroquois attack. Suzanne’s father, Jean Nepveu acquired his land there in November 1652.

Map of Sillery, 1663 from Marcel Trudel's Le Terrier Du Saint-Laurent En 1663.

Map of Sillery, 1663 from Marcel Trudel’s Le Terrier Du Saint-Laurent En 1663.

Sillery was definitely a crossroads of European and native life in the 1650s.  Father Bailloquet, of the thickly-inked, tight scrawl below, baptized many natives at Sillery.  At least 8 baptisms are captured in the screen shot below.

1655 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of familysearch.org record

1655 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

In the Sillery records, the native and the European births were usually kept separate.  However, Suzanne Nepveu’s baptism record defies expectations because it is in an unusual mixed list.  Still, the way her baptism was handled makes it likely that she was European in origin.

Suzanne Nepveu and others' baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

Suzanne Nepveu and others’ baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

In the list above, both European and native baptisms are present — but the European baptisms (Suzanne Neveu, Hyancith Charland, Margarita Guillebout, and Ignace Denis) all have their names listed in the margins.  The native child is not extended that courtesy — just as in the native-only baptism list above.

Suzanne’s older sister, Barbe, was baptized at Notre Dame de Quebec a couple of years prior.

Babe Nepveu's 1653 baptism at Notre Dame de Quebec. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

Babe Nepveu’s 1653 baptism at Notre Dame de Quebec. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

She was also granted margin recognition for her record.

Understanding these documents isn’t easy.  The handwriting is often poor, the documents are often in Latin, and the information is utilitarian.  For now, I am confidant in my hunch about margin recognition as a signal of pure European heritage.  However if I had a Meti (mixed race) baptism record (or few) for comparison, I might be inspired to change my mind.  If you have one from the 1650s, please share!

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Follow the Godparents: Mixed Race Relations

My ancestors lived next door to the native reserve at Sillery during the mid-seventeenth century.  I have been wondering about how tight their relationships to native Americans might have been.  It looks like the answer might be found by following the godparents!

A while back I posted about using godparents as a way to put skin on the bones of distant ancestors’ lives.  In the Nepveu and Silvestre families, community ties were made and reinforced through god-family. Now I also have evidence of interracial relations as well.

Etienne Denevers dit Brantigni (the original Boisvert from France) was godfather to at least two namesake native godsons.  The first was the son of Kaouboukouchich and Kouekassouekoue, born 1650.

1650 baptism at Trois Rivieres. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

1650 native baptism at Trois Rivieres. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

The second was the son of Nicole Nemiouekoue and Pikouetching, born 1663.  I believe this Etienne’s mother was a Christian Indian (hence the mixed name) but that his father was not.

1663 native baptism at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of familysearch.org record

1663 native baptism at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

Edward Roby, who provided a vital translation in the comments of this post, believes that Etienne Denevers later adopted this godson and raised him (Etienne Denevers dit Boisvert, @1661) as his own.

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