Wednesday, October 23, 2013

La Grande Recrue de 1653

The first of my ancestors set foot in the New World in 1653. (A previous post about Pierre DeSautels dit la pointe can be found HERE) I recently discovered some of the motivation for a young 22 year old man to pull up roots in France and sail to Montreal, Quebec Canada.

Prospects for young men in Malicorne France must have been dismal indeed for our Pierre the Pioneer to have thought prospects in New France were better.  The 30 Year War had recently ended and it had decimated Europe.  Germany lost half of it's population to the war.  France was bankrupt in 1647 but did not announce it until 1648.  Pierre's father was a tailor and since Pierre listed that as his occupation he was more likely an apprentice to his father - who probably could no longer afford him in tough economic times.  Prospects must have seemed to be non-existant to young Pierre

By 1650, the village of Montreal had been decimated by the Iroquis Indians.  One in five residents had been killed by them and the village was on the verge of folding.  It was well known that torture was in store if the Indians captured you. Roasting the prisoner alive over a period of several days was one of the preferred methods, followed by cannabilism.

Huge land grants had been given to the first settlers who were to recruit more settlers to work the land; but the original pioneers were more interested in fur-trapping than farming and the venture failed to recruit more settlers.  Slightly more than 100 settlers were living in the Montreal area by 1650.  Collapse of the colony seemed imminent.

The Maison LeBer-LeMoyne built in 1671 in Old Montreal
from Wilkepedia here

In 1651, the head of the settlement , M. Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, went to France to recruit One Hundred souls to bolster the population of Montreal and keep the settlement from failing.  My ancestor, Pierre DeSautels, was one of those pioneer recruits.  He was one of four people on the boat who could write his name and had an education.  After Pierre's boat set sail, it began to leak and they had to turn around.  To keep the new recruits from abandoning ship, literally, they only came back as far as an island off the coast of France to make repairs.  I have to wonder if Pierre did not begin to question his decision to emigrate to the New World!

Pierre the Pioneer was one of the few of the original volunteers of the La Grande Recrue de 1653 who survived the rigors and brutalities of the New World and thrived. Eventually, the long awaited land grant was given to him on Longue Point, and he acquired the surname of dit (from) la (the) Pointe.

An old map of Montreal - Longue Pointe is on the southern side of the Big Island jutting out as the 'bump' on the northerly central end just above the little island. - Hence  Longue Pointe.

Wisely, Pierre did not live on Longue Pointe as the outer settlements of Montreal were easy prey for the Iroquis.  Generations later, however, the family still lived there as my Great-great grandfather, Joseph Maxime DeSotels (DeSautels) was born in Longue Pointe in 1834, as was his father, Joseph Basile DeSotels in 1808.  

Joseph Maxime DeSotels

NEXT:  Coureur Des Bois -
The early French Canadians make their living trapping and followed the rivers helping to settle the Mississippi River country.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting entry. We would have had ancestors who were neighbors back in Quebec.