Chapter 4

The Ultimate Single Parent

The first order of business for Judith was to find a new husband, not just for herself but with several young mouths to feed.

As luck would have it, there was no shortage of bachelors in New France. On January 26, 1667, she married a Trois-Rivieres trader, Jean Therrien de Ponceau.

There is some controversy as to whether this Jean Therrien (also spelled Terrien) carried the nickname of dit Duhaime (so that his full name would be Jean Therrien dit Duhaime).

Official city records of Dieppe, France describe him as both Jean Terrien and:

"DUHEMME ou Duhaime, Jean dit Terrien-Laplanche, né à Saint-Jacques de Dieppe, de Jean et de Marie Elie, épousa, le 26 janvier 1667 , aux Trois-Rivières, Judith Rigaud. 3 enfants."

What is known is that Therrien was a native of Saint-Jacques de Dieppe in France (1644-1675) and he was twelve years Judith's junior.29 He agreed to live with, and support, the six surviving Lemaistre children. They were married at Trois-Rivières.

On November 6, 1667, they had their first child together, Dominique, but he died soon after birth. Records show that the infant was buried in December of the same year.

Conseil souverainRetrieving the comfort and financial security of days past would be a long struggle for Judith. Trois-Rivieres court records show that in February 13, 1668, she was unable to pay an invoice for wheat received. Her financial distress culminated in the summer of 1668 when she was sued, again, before the court of the Conseil souverein in Trois-Rivieres (see painting of the Conseil Souverain by C. Huot). Curiously, and again showing how personal and litigious relationships often overlapped in New France, one of the petitioners against her was La Rochelle merchant and husband of Charles' godmother, Arnault Péré.

According to court records, Judith argued that she had contracted the debts while totally unaware of her husband's death and fully expected to return to a prospering business. She told the court that she returned to Trois-Rivieres only to find that most of their property had been seized or stolen and that she had used what little was left to settle a number of the more pressing debts. At present, she said, she had barely enough left to support her children and was in a state of very great poverty.30

The petitioners were not impressed. They told the court that Rigaud still possessed a number of items of considerable value which she refused . to sell or part with, including her fancy bed:

" ... evaluated at five hundred pounds and sumptuous clothes, and that she bartered merchandise with the Indians for which she has fine hides, which she hid so as to defraud them of their just due."

The court sympathized with Judith Rigaud and granted her a three year reprieve from her creditors.

Judith was pregnant (again) even as the court judgment was being read. Jean Terrien Jr. (1669-1759) was born in Trois-Rivieres on March 17, 1669.

In the fall of 1670, Jean Therrien Sr. left on a trading expedition, leaving behind Judith, who was pregnant again. But Jean Therrien dit Duhaime never returned from his expedition. It is assumed he died accidentally during the trip.

signature Judith RigaudAnd so, Judith Rigaud was a widow again and on April 5, 1671, she gave birth to her last child, Louis-Michel Duhaime dit Terrien. The Trois-Rivieres civil registry records the birth of Louis-Michel as that of a bastard, illegitimate even though the father's name was included in the record of baptism as Jean Duhaime.

One historian speculates that because the father Jean Duhaime was more commonly known in his lifetime as Jean Therrien, the newly arrived priest, Hilarion Guerin erroneously concluded the baby was illegitimate.31

Judith was absent when the baby was baptized. Otherwise, she might have set the record straight.

Other historians speculate that another Jean Duhaime did live nearby and was in fact the father of the child.

Judith kept the family trading operation in business in spite of the burden of ten children at home. Business had begun to pay off for her, finally. According to the census of 1667, the household lived on a 30-acre farm, employed two servants and had five heads of cattle. It is surprising that she managed to stave off, under these circumstances, that legal suit of 1668.

This formidable women, at times wife, mother and fur trader, persevered and continued the trading businesses started with her two ex-husbands.

This is attested to by court documents of the jurisdiction of Cap-de- la-Madeleine where three times, between 1670 and 1671, reference is made to suits between her and local tradesmen.

Then, according to a history of Louiseville, Judith became:

"... involved in a sad adventure and then finally decided to leave Trois-Rivieres perhaps to more vigorously launch out in her fur business, far from the Trois-Rivieres police."32

Police? In those days, not paying your debts meant debtor prison so there is no necessary inference to crime by the reference to the "police".

Whether this "sad adventure" ("triste histoire") was economic or personal is anybody's guess.

As early as 1665, under orders from French Intendant Jean Talon, four officers and 36 troops settled the mouth of the Grande Rivieres du Loup, some 30 miles South of Trois-Rivieres.

Louiseville logoDidier Villeroy was one of these soldiers.33 By the time of Judith Rigaud's departure from Trois-Rivieres, in 1672, her son Pierre, 17-years-old, had already left to work on land farther South along Lake St.-Pierre, owned by Villeroy in the new settlement of Riviere-du-Loup en Haut (now Louiseville)

Still at home were François Jr., 12, Marie-Louise, 15, Jean, 11, Marguerite, 8, Charles, 6, Jean, 3 and Louis-Michel, 1.

Judith followed her son Pierre north, to the new Domaine Manereuil development along the Riviere-du-Loup en Haut (a distinct municipality of Rivere-du-Loup would later exist on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, hundreds of miles North). Louiseville lay on the North-West shore of the St. Lawrence River, at a point where the river widens extensively, and which the locals took to calling St. Pierre "Lake" and so it is still called today.

The land was named after Charles de Jeu, Sieur de Manereuil (also spelled Charles de Jay, Vicompte de Manereuil), an officer in the French army and to whom Talon had given the seigneury by title dated November 3, 167l (in the result, Manereuil neglected the grant and the king took it back in 1683).