Chapter one The LaVergne's
A tall young man stood in front of the sturdy, well built home he owned. He gazed over his property enjoying the lush grassland, the huge shade trees and the many flowering bushes that ringed the area. Over six feet in statute, with huge hands and broad shoulders a passerby might have taken him for a, laborer perhaps a farmer. Thick black unruly hair fell over his forehead nearly down to his huge nose. Above the majestic nose, a certain sign of his parentage, keen dark black eyes looked out at the world. Louis LaVergne was a proud landowner. The fine home he stood in front of had been built with his own hands and of course those of his two brothers, Christopher and Joseph.
The three had come to Canada from France in 1667, leaving their home, parents and siblings to come here, New France. Stories about the fur trade and the many opportunities found in this new land had inspired the three brothers to leave everything behind. Louis was the youngest of the brothers but up to now had been the most successful. Christopher and Joseph quickly immersed themselves in the work of trapping, skinning, curing and transporting furs which were then bought by the trading companies and shipped back to Europe so the rich could have warm clothing. Thinking he would rather not kill small or large animals so he could strip them of their hides, which quickly stank so that the trappers never seemed to get the smell out of their nostrils, he looked for a different type of money earning labor. Each time his bothers came to stay with him in the off season he kept his distance. No matter how many times they bathed and washed their clothes the smell lingered around them like an aura.
Louis had soon found that there were two kinds of people in New France, the poor farmers and trappers and the rich business owners. The farmers provided the crops to feed the city. The elite found dealing with these growers of everything they ate, distasteful. Louis saw an opportunity. Dressing in old worn clothes he approached the farmers with a plan. Then he attired himself in the finest clothing he could buy, beg are borrow. He then went to the rich landowners and even some royalty in the area and explained to them what he had in mind. The farmers were happy to deal with the handsome young man who with his built and large hands seemed to be on of them. The rich were pleased to deal with the well-mannered neatly dressed young man who didn't smell of dirt, sweat and horses.
Soon Louis had a thriving business as a middleman, a Bourgeois was the term used to describe what he did. He bought from the farmers for a small amount then cleaned, prepared then carried the produce to the rich inflating the price of the goods tenfold. In the nine years Louis had been in Canada he had prospered. In many cases he was richer then the men he sold his produce to, but of course he never let on.
In the town proper of Quebec where most of his customers lived he had one particular family he sold to. Mr. and Mrs. Simon had a nice house near the town-square. Louis particularly enjoyed delivering to this family and was always very careful to provide then with the best of each crop. Although Mr. and Mrs. Simon, were an affable couple and always treated the young man with the utmost dignity that wasn't the cause of young Louis' beating heart and sweating palms as he approached their home. Louis had first seen Marie Anne when he began delivering to the Simons in the early days of his business. Then, she was just a skinny child barely twelve years of age and Louis hardly noticed her. One day as he arrived in his wagon pulled by his beautiful black horse he had seen a commotion in the front of the Simon home. The cook told him the child Marie Anne was leaving for France, were she could get a proper education. Not once in the ensuing four years did Marie Anne cross his mind. When he wasn't dealing with his suppliers and customers he listened to his brothers agonizing about what was happening in the area. The, French were slowly being pushed out of the fur trade, by the English. In 1670 King Charles had granted a charter to Prince Rupert and his "Company of Adventures of England trading". The HBC as it was known made inroads into the fur trading and through lowering of prices and using quicker methods of delivering the goods was causing problems for the French. Joseph and Christopher found rough going very quickly and by 1675 came to their younger brother for help. Louis was happy to have his brothers working with him. His business had grown so it was no longer a one-man affair. From time to time he had hired helpers but soon found most of them could not be trusted. The hired personnel had bad habits such as eating their deliveries or just taking the entire lot home with them. Inevitably Louis had to quickly put together another order and take it himself. Now, with his brothers working with him things smoothed out very well. At first he let Christopher and Joseph handle the cleaning and preparing of the vegetables after the food stuff had been picked up from the farmers. Eventually he trained them, after the smell of dead animals had finally left them and their clothes, in how to handle the customers.
Louis turned most of his duties over to his brothers then busied himself with other tasks. He had noticed the upper echelon loved to spend their money on, to him, useless objects. Trinkets from around the world seemed to fascinate the rich. Making connections with trading Captains he soon had an inventory of chinaware, rugs, tapestries, candleholders, fancy lamps and myriads of other items from many different countries. After carefully observing the town he found the places where most of the elite shopped. One such street had shops and dining places the upper echelon seemed to particularly enjoy. Writing down the information posted in front of one of the empty buildings he went to the local bank that owned the property.
"Can I assist you sir?" Asked the plump sweating man with a pince-nez barely hanging from the tip of his bulbous nose.
"Yes." Answered Louis. "I wish to speak to whomever is in charge of the property at....." Louis gave the address and location of the building he was interested in.
"I believe I can help you. What did you have in mind, sir?"
"I wish to purchase the building in order to set up a retail business."
The banker attempted to look down on Louis, which was quite impossible from his five foot four inches to Louis' six-foot stature.
"That particular store is in what we call, the high rent district. Certainly beyond your means, sir." Undisguised contempt dripped from the short round banker's voice. "Aren't you that bourgeois, that deliverer of potatoes and beets? Yes, I thought I recognized you. Certainly, you couldn't possibly think of selling your goods from that location. I can imagine how quickly the smell of rotting vegetation would drive away all the fine persons that enjoy those surroundings. I'm sorry this is out of the question. Good day, sir." The banker walked away attempting to maintain an affronted attitude and royal dignity but his jiggling fat buttocks kept him from pulling off the charade.
Louis had stood quite still with a small smile on his lips during the tirade. He had long ago become inured to the attitude of his "betters".
"I don't want to rent the property sir, and I don't plan on selling vegetables from there. I have something entirely different in mind, something that would fit perfectly. How much?"
The banker stopped, stood still a moment then turned and looked at Louis. Gesturing to the tall man he bid him follow. At a desk in a corner he sat. Taking his time he looked through folders and opened and closed desk drawers occasionally looking at Louis over his pince-nez. Each glance was loaded with a haughty and cynical air. Mr. Theodis de Chanplain, who claimed to be a distant relative of the founder of Gaspie, Samuel de Chanplain, thought himself above all of the people who came to him to do business. He was especially rankled by having to deal with this commoner.
"Ah, here it is." Writing a sum on a piece of paper he started to hand the figure to Louis.
"I assume you can read, sir." De Champlain said in an insulting tone.
"Yes, sir. I can read. What is the price for the building." Taking the piece of paper from the sweaty fingers of the banker, Louis glanced at the amount. He had carefully checked out the area and saw immediately the price was at least 15% more than the building was worth. Gritting his teeth he decided not to let the despicable man in front of him have the upper hand in the slightest.
"Very well. Please draw up the necessary papers and I will return tomorrow with that amount, in cash." Rising Louis walked from the bank with a huge smile on his face. He knew he had left de Chanplain gasping in disbelief. He was aware the man had looked forward to having Louis dealing for a loan and he knew de Chanplain would have enjoyed seeing him begging. The amount was too much but it was only a small part of the money Louis had hidden. He had made a small fortune dealing with providers and consumers of the foodstuff. Once he had been offered a title because the royalty he dealt with didn't have the funds with which to pay. He had laughed to himself then, now he almost wished he had taken the title. Wouldn't that have been fun letting the fat banker, know he was dealing with Earl, Louis LaVergne or maybe Duke.
A week later Louis opened his new business. He had the place scrubbed and oiled from top to bottom. The wood throughout the small store shone with a deep luster. Each shelf was loaded with the items for sale. Louis had partitioned the merchandise by country. A customer with a penchant for Indian art and other items had only to look in one section. Lovely carpets from Turkey took up another area. Louis sat behind the center counter and waited. As night began to fall he closed the shop then mounted his favorite horse then went home. That night his brothers who had thought the idea of the shop, was ludicrous laughed and teased him till bedtime. The following day found Louis back behind the counter. As he stood watching he saw a lady stop and glance inside. She stood in the doorway and looked around cautiously.
"Is anyone in here?" She asked.
" I'm here." Louis said walking toward his first potential customer.
"You need some light back there, young man." Exclaimed the woman. Standing next to her Louis looked back in the direction of the counter he had been standing behind. Of course he thought, it's so dark back there no one can see me or any of the items for sale.
"Yes ma'am, you are absolutely correct. Please stay there and let me fire up a few lamps then you can tell me if that is better." After setting three lamps on the counters one in the middle and one on each side the place came alive. Light twinkled and bounced off all the bright and colorful merchandise. The lady stood in one place and turning slowly surveyed the shop.
"This place is breathtaking, what lovely and unusual items you have in here. Now how much for instance, is this item? Are we supposed to stand at the counter and haggle over the price as my husband and I did when we were in India?" Louis who up to this moment had been filled with pride on the wonderful job he had done setting up his store. Apparently I have a lot to learn he thought.
"Madam, you are entirely correct. I see I have a lot of work to do before I can open for business."
The lady smiled and looked up at the tall young man with a mischievous smile on her face she said. "Yes you do but I can see once you get it done this will be the talk of the town. When do you expect to be ready for customers?"
"I..I.. well I'm not at all certain. I'll have to check my records to find what I've spent and then decide what to charge. Then I'll have to label each item, oh my, I don't know."
"Could you afford to pay for help. I know a lady who could use a little money who would be of enormous assistance to you. Shall I send her by?"
"Yes that would be wonderful. Yes I certainly need a lot of help and quickly. My brothers are laughing and it will get only worse. Just last night they suggested a name for the store....Lunatic Louis LaVergne's House of unsold goods."
Well Mr. LaVergne, don't fret, I'll have the lady come by today. I believe she will be exactly who you need. By the way, is Mrs. LaVergne going to be assisting you here at your business?"
"I'm afraid there is no Mrs. LaVergne, Madam. Since I came to this country I have worked night and day to be successful and I fear I have had no time for courting, and no one I wanted to court."
"I see, well good day sir. A Miss Hidegarde Schmidt will be here this afternoon. You and she can discuss pay and working hours. I feel you will be extremely pleased with her."
The tiny neatly dressed lady walked out into the day opening her parasol to block out the sun. Louis stepped out the door and watched her walk away. What a nice lady he thought, ah I'm so stupid I forgot to get her name. Oh, well.
Shortly after the noon hour Louis watched as a rather large woman walked through the front door.
"Can I help you?" He asked.
"I am here to help you." Answered the huge blonde woman. "I am Miss Schmidt my employer sent me to help you. I have worked in many shops in many countries and I can see as I stand here you need a lot of help." The lady slowly turned looking at everything. Standing with her hands on her hips she was quite an imposing figure.
"Where should we start?" Louis asked.
"Do you have clean white paper and string and also a pair of scissors and a list of what you want to charge for these items?" Miss Schmidt asked as she walked around the store. Louis watched her intently certain the large woman would begin to knock things every which way. Instead she carried her bulk smoothly around the items, some of which were fragile, never brushing against any of them.
A few hours later Louis wondered to himself, who is the proprietor and who is the hired help. Miss Schmidt countered the first few items Louis attempted to price.
"That's much to small an amount, Mr. LaVergne." Became her mantra. "You are pricing your items way too low. Might I make a suggestion? I have worked in many stores around the world. What you are doing is pricing these according to what you paid the lot of these rugs for instance in bulk. You then divided the number of items by the total price of all of the rugs."
"That's correct and that seems fair."
"But, how about your cost of hauling these items then storing then in your warehouse then bringing them here. How about the cost of this building, has that been factored into your asking price. Plus my salary, who pays that, you or your customers?"
"What ever you say Miss Schmidt. I have been selling since I came to this country but it was a different type of goods. I can see I am in way over my head." With a nod and smile Miss Schmidt agreed that Louis knew almost nothing about managing a successful operation of this kind.
Louis soon realized he needed Hildegarde Schmidt for more than pricing merchandise. In a short time she took over the store and he was soon doing what he was told to do. Not only did she price the items, she set up the opening and closing hours and her own salary. Louis became little more then a stock boy and a fetcher for whatever Miss Schmidt needed.
Three days after he had met Miss Schmidt he wondered how he had gotten by without her in his life. After finishing her duties at the home she worked in she came quickly to the store full of energy and ideas. As Louis was setting up the lamps where Miss Schmidt had instructed, he went over all the changes that had been made. On the end of one counter was a contraption he had never even known existed. By pressing levers one could charge the customer and the machine told him what change was coming to them. Miss Schmidt had hung some of the large carpets on the walls. They highlighted the items scattered seemingly haphazard on all of the counters. The effect was beautiful. Louis realized he would never have thought to do this. The lady was...well, almost worth her weight in gold.
"Miss Schmidt, I failed to get the name of your employer. I wish to thank her for sending you to me. Tell her to come by soon as I would like to show my gratefulness in person." Louis told Miss Schmidt.
"Why, Mr. LaVergne I thought you knew. The lady is Madame de Champlain, her husband owns the little bank down the street." Louis smiled at the slight irony. The wife of the man who thought he wasn't good enough to do this had been the one to help him. Her assistance had been invaluable.
As time flew by Louis became wealthier then he had ever dared to dream would happen. His brothers were doing extremely well with the vegetables and Miss Schmidt had the shop producing a very nice profit. For the first time in his working life Louis found himself with spare time on his hands.
One morning the small bell that was brushed when someone came into the store tinkled, causing Louis to look up. The sun behind the figure was too bright for Louis to see who the customer might be. He definitely knew it was a female. Her curves testified to that fact immediately. The two walked toward each other and as Louis saw the face of the woman, her heart stopped. Before him was the most beautiful woman he had ever had the pleasure to meet. Before him stood a lady with blue eyes, blonde hair that spilled out from under the small dainty bonnet she wore, soft creamy white skin and a smile that froze him in his tracks and turned him into an idiotic mute. Instead of asking what he could do for the lady he simply stood and gaped like a fool. He knew he was doing that and he knew he must stop, but he couldn't. For the first time in his life Louis LaVergne was blinded by love. Miss Schmidt saved him from drooling all over the front of his coat by luckily arriving at just that instance.
"Hello Mr. LaVergne. Good morning Miss Simon, I am happy to see you found the shop. Do you know Miss Marie Anne Simon, Mr LaVergne? She just got back from four years in France. You see Miss Simon, isn't this a nice place? Take your time and look around. We have something from practically every civilized, and some not so civilized, nations in the world." Miss Schmidt then went around busily setting the place up for business. Miss Simon stood and looked around. Louis stood and wondered why he couldn't move, speak or even hear very well. Finally breaking free from his stupor, Louis began apologizing to the lovely Marie Anne Simon.
"I'm so sorry, please excuse me, I was uh... surprised by seeing you again...uh here in my store. Why aren't you in France? No, I mean when did you get back from France?"
Though just a child barely 16 years of age, nature and four years among the liberal society of France had fitted Marie Anne with the ability all women have, an understanding of men that surpasses any knowledge men may ever think they have of women. Marie Anne had of course recognized the name she had heard, Louis LaVergne. She had been taken with the man who had delivered the vegetables to her home. She had thought him handsomer then any Greek god. She had felt a small thrill she didn't understand when she had observed the rippling of his muscles when he had lifted heavy sacks of potatoes into the kitchen of her home. Now he was more attractive then ever as he stood before her attempting to regain his control. His perfectly cut suit did little to hide his manly physique. The large shoulders she had admired seemed to be struggling to burst from the material that was stretched over them.
"Mr. LaVergne, how nice it is to see you again, sir. I see you are no longer delivering vegetables. This is a nice place you have here. Would you be so kind as to show me around?"
"Certainly, as you can see we have exotic items from around the world. Lamps, carpets, murals, candleholders, silverware, chinaware." Louis got control by turning away from Marie Anne's beauty and instead, looking at the items he knew well. All to soon Miss Simon said she had to go.
"Thank you so much for showing me the shop. I'll definitely return when I have more time. I have an important appointment I must see to. You never did answer me. Do you no longer deliver vegetables? Is this business now your only concern?"
"No, I mean yes I still have the other business. My brothers are in charge of that enterprise and I spend....well, most of my time here. I...uh occasionally still make deliveries, to special customers."
"Thanks again for your time, Mr. LaVergne. I'm sure we'll meet again, soon." The beautiful lady extended her hand LaVergne almost bent over and kissed it like the fancy people he had seen. He stopped himself and simply gave the soft white hand a gentle squeeze. Am I losing my senses he wondered? First I stand and gawk, then I almost kiss her hand like some sort of fop. Goodness, LaVergne get yourself together he chided himself.
That night he asked his brothers for a list of deliveries to be made in the following week. He saw one had been scheduled for Monday. The next day was Sunday. No one worked in the area. The, majority of the citizens were catholic and took the day off. None of the LaVergne men ever attended mass although they knew their sainted Mother would have stood on a chair and boxed their ears if she had been nearby and been aware of their negligence. Sunday was a day for resting and doing a few shores such as repairing equipment around the house. Wagon wheels were always in need of axle grease. Sometimes the entire wheel had to be replaced. There always seemed to be jobs to do yet the men found time to do some of the things each enjoyed. Joseph who had always stayed close to the house seemed to always find somewhere he needed to be. Christopher told Louis he suspected their brother had perhaps met a lady and was going to see her each Sunday. Louis, who had never thought about such a thing, now could understand his, brother's need to go he now found himself thinking constantly of two lovely blue eyes. Christopher usually went to a bachelor friend's home where he and several other men had a friendly game of cards. The day lasted easily 48 hours Louis surmised. Never had time crept so by agonizingly slow.
Monday he loaded one of the wagons with just one order. His brother's enquired about this.
"Just one order? Why? Don't you thing that's a waste. Why are you taking nice clothes along in this satchel? What's going on?" They wanted to know. Christopher and Joseph usually loaded a wagon each. This was always sufficient to make all the deliveries due. The third wagon and team were spares that were rotated.
As Louis drove away the two brothers looked at each other. Neither of them could understand their usually levelheaded siblings, strange actions. Louis's heart was beating wildly as he pulled behind the Simon house and began unloading into the kitchen.
"Why Mr. LaVergne, it's good to see you again. My husband and I had decided we'd have to go your fancy new shop in order to see you."
Louis turned and smiled at Mrs. Simon. He realized he was happy to see her. Most of his customers, especially the older ladies he dealt with had began treating him like a son. They knew he and his brothers were far from their family. The three men were friendly and easy-going and very well liked in the town of Quebec.
"Mrs. Simon how very nice to see you. I've missed my customers and decided I would make a delivery occasionally, to special ones like you and Mr. Simon."
"I see. Well that pleases me, as I'm happy to see you again. Oh Marie Anne, do you remember Mr. LaVergne the bourgeois who brings us all those wonderful vegetables we so enjoy? This is my daughter Mr. LaVergne I suppose you don't remember her as she was just a small child when she left for France." Mrs. Simon looked at her daughter then back to Louis. She remembered that look that was passing between them. She and Mr. Simon many years ago had acted the same way. In an instant, being a Mother, she weighed the situation and made a lighting fast decision. Although quite a few years older than her daughter Mr. Lavergne had become one of the more eligible bachelors in the town. Although he hadn't been born to money are royalty it was common knowledge he was probably one of the, wealthiest men in the village. The age difference was quite acceptable and desired in today's society she knew. Young men, were not good marriage prospects, as they had no stability and worst no money. The young men from the better families simply wanted to travel, be lazy, spend their father's money and sow their wild oats. Mr. LaVergne was stable, wealthy, older and levelheaded. Surely his strong body and excellent mind coupled with her beautiful daughter's maturity although she was still young, would produce wonderful, intelligent healthy Grandchildren. It would be very nice to have the best producer of vegetables and now as she heard the owner of a wonderful shop as a son-in-law. Besides all of that she adored the young man. She had begun looking on him as the son she knew she never would have. Marie Anne, was the first and last child for her and her husband. The couple had both been in their late forties when they had married. Neither of them had been great beauties and Mr. Simon had spent many years in government service that took him all around the globe. Many nights the old couple had stood and looked down on the sleeping angel, God given them in his mercy. Now, Marie Anne was a fully, grown woman on the verge. Someone would catch her eye, better this fine man than some spoiled foppish son of some so-called elite or make believe royalty. The lady was aware titles were sold daily by the French. Who knew which Duke was real and who wasn't.
"Mr. LaVergne, I'm so glad to see you again, especially today. This coming Saturday we're planning a small dinner in Marie Anne's honor. You know she matriculated at the head of her class. We're proud of her and want to do this small gathering. Could you possibly come?" Which of the two was the most surprised would be hard to say Louis because of the invitation or Marie Anne who was hearing about this planned event for the first time. Mothers have a way of manipulating mostly, in a gentle loving way. God gives them this ability along with the precious gift of child bearing.
Poor Louis was in agony the rest of the week. Hildegarde finally ordered him out of the shop.
"Go." She said. "Find something to do. You are driving me crazy." Louis wondered around the town and saw buildings he didn't know existed. Unless he had direct business with a person he never dealt with anyone. He found the town was quite pretty. Several churches were within short distances from each other, he went into one and gazed at the statute of Jesus and His Mother Mary and thanked them in the first prayer he had uttered in over 10 years.
That Saturday everyone knew instantly what was going on between the couple. Marie Anne, radiant and beautiful actually became more so when Louis walked through the door. He was dressed perfectly. He had gone to the best tailor in town and had a complete outfit made for himself. He was slightly late because the tailor, working overtime, had actually finished the suit right on Louis's back that afternoon. Louis tall, with a wonderful strong physique with dark flashing eyes and a brilliant white smile that was always genuine, never met a stranger. If given half a chance he would be your friend. As the couple walked toward each other with eyes only for each other everyone parted like the Red Sea and smiled. The gathering basked in the feeling of overwhelming love the two showed. Men winked at each other and women, blushed remembering when it had been them.
May 26th 1676 the two took their vows in the same church Louis had knelt in while giving thanks for having found the love of his life. For a woman of that time it was expected even demanded she be a virgin on her wedding night. Marie Anne was. Much to her delight so was her handsome new husband. Together they explored the marriage bed and discovered for the first time the wonder that God had placed into their bodies. Five years later on September 16th 1681, the two were blessed with the birth of a son. The name given to him by the loving parents was Louis LaVergne. Later they had a daughter, Margaret Lavergne.
Louis had turned the vegetable business over to his brothers completely, making them equal partners. As the town grew and expanded so did Louis' other businesses. He soon had several stores and being innovative he combined his shops with small outdoor cafes. Mr. de Champlain., became his most ardent admirer due to the huge deposits Louis made daily into his bank.
Louis a leading figure in business and society was invited to join the most prestigious club in Quebec. The organization was known as a hunting club and now and then they actually went hunting. Mostly the men sat around tables, played cards and discussed their town, how it was growing and how the British were bullying their way into every phase of society.
Although only 40 years of age, Louis was looked on as one of the 'old men' by many of the members. One young man by the name of Rene de Laverdure de Pouisant became very attached to Louis. He came to Louis constantly for advice. One night he asked Louis if they could speak privately, outside the room. The night was uncommonly cool and dry so the two friends lit a cigar and strolled outside. Rene had just turned to Louis to explain his problem when they both heard a commotion. Looking to where their horses were tied the two, saw a large wild looking man rushing toward the building.
"Oh my God, no!" Exclaimed Rene.
"What is it, what's happening." Asked Louis. He heard the fear and dread in his friend's voice.
"That man, he's looking to harm me. He's angry with me because of, well a slight problem concerning his wife and I." Louis knew immediately what that 'problem' would be. Rene had quite a reputation with the ladies, especially the older ones who had grown bored and tired with their husbands frequently being away from home on business and other endeavors that left the ladies alone and lonely.
Louis began walking toward the angry man hoping to speak to him and perhaps cool the situation down. Rene stepped behind Louis as the angry husband raised a pistol and aimed it at the young man. As Louis raised his hands, the angry wronged husband fired. The bullet intended for Rene, fired from a weapon that was well known for seldom finding it's mark, fired from the shaking hand of a man filled with rage, struck Louis in his abdomen. As Louis lay on the ground, bleeding, the club building emptied. The shooter was wrestled to the ground and disarmed. His friends hurriedly took Louis to the nearest Doctor.
Marie Anne sat next to her husband holding his hand. How, she asked God, can a man so large and strong, in such perfect health be withering away in front of her crying disbelieving eyes. The doctor had told her the chances were very poor that Louis would recover. The ball had entered his abdomen tearing apart his stomach and alimentary canal. Poison had spread quickly through his system. He told Marie Anne, an ordinary man would have died from the shock and loss of blood. Louis' will to live had kept him alive this long but even a man as strong as Louis would soon succumb to his wound.
With his loving wife, his two brothers, his Mother and Father in law and his young children near. Louis Lavergne, a man who had survived a long voyage from the south of France to the new world, had made for himself a good life through hard work and ingenuity, a man well loved and respected by everyone who knew him, on October 16, 1687, died.
In 1723 the younger Louis who had inherited his Father's abilities and good nature decided to take his Mother and sister away from Quebec. The area had become so dominated by the British life was sometimes difficult for the French. Like his Father before him Louis was a shrewd businessman so he left Canada with a small fortune and headed for the area owned by France known as The Louisiana territory.
Chapter two The Doucet's
In the year 1595 a child was born, his parents named him Germain Doucet. His entire name was Germain Doucet dit Laverdure. In 1632 Doucet arrived in LaHarve, Acadie with his good friend, Commander de Rezilly. The two had grown up in an area of France located between the two small towns of d'Aulny and Loudon. With Germain was his wife and their son Pierre 11 years old. Two years later the Doucet's had a daughter named Marguerite Louise.
The two families settled in the area around Port Royal, a city on the Coast of Acadie. That area which included the entire area now known as Nova Scotia and extending to cover all of New Foundland had been discovered by John Cabot in 1497. Germain knew the history of the territory he now called home. Although the English had discovered the area it was not colonized till Samuel Champlain, the Sieur du Monts and Jena Biencourt Poutraincourt established a French colony on an island in the mouth of the St. Croix river. After a particularly severe winter the colony was moved across the Bay of Fundy to the mainland. The area known as Port Royal. About 1607 Germain knew the settlement had been abandoned but had been resettled in 1610. Although the French had done and was doing all of the labor involved in settling a new raw country, the British kept trying to take over.
By July 1640 Germain, a tall slim blonde with piercing blue eyes had become a Captain. His title was Captain of Pantagouet. Germain fought alongside his friend the Governor of Port Royal, Charles d'Aulny. The battles were fought across the Bay of Fundy. Although the British had ceded the land to France they constantly sent incursions trying to reclaim the territory by force. In a battle against The Bostonians a group stationed in the colonies across the Bay of Fundy, Germain distinguished himself as a fearless leader and commander of men. The tall slim blonde won many honors and was promoted to Major.
One day in 1644 Governor d"Aulny asked Germain to head a small committee to investigate a certain Charles Latour. Germain called on two of his friends Guillame Trahan and Issac Pressley.
"We have to be entirely circumspect gentlemen." Germain cautioned the other members of the small secret group. "We've heard rumors that Mr. Latour, is one of the two suspected, a respected member of our community may have been collaborating with the British. Several times we have been routed in battle because the English seemed to know exactly what our plans were. We certainly need to know who the spy is yet we don't want to falsely accuse anyone, certainly, not one of our fellow officers and or townsmen. We've been able by intelligent elimination to narrow the field down to two names. These two have been privy to all of the setbacks we've encountered on the battlefield. Governor de'Aulny and his staff have been able, by keeping information on a need to know basis, to narrow the traitors to two. Latour and a Lieutenant Thibodeaux are the only two suspects left. Now this my plan."
Trahan was told to pass on certain information to Latour and Pressley was given the task of informing Thibodeaux the same information except with a few changes. Later on the night chosen two separate forces watched. Germain's group was posted near the edge of the Bay of Fundy northwest of Port Royal. The other group led by, Trahan, were posted some ten miles to the East. The men's horses had been hobbled several hundred yards behind them so they would not give away the groups locations. Germain looked up the night sky and was pleased, the full moon would make their jobs much easier. Shortly after midnight, the sound of men coming toward the encampment that had been set up, complete with empty tents and small campfires, was heard by Major Germain Doucet and his group. The men watched as the British soldiers attacked the empty campground then stand around talking in puzzled tones. Finally apparently deciding the missing soldiers were perhaps training back in the woodlands that surrounded the area, the British officer in charge decided they had better quickly withdraw before his, small group was set upon by a much larger force. Major Doucet and his men watched as the British made a hasty retreat to their boats which they quickly rowed back to the mainland across the Bay of Fundy.
The next morning Doucet, Trahan and Pressley gave their report to the Governor and the other leaders. Latour was the traitor.
In 1654 the British overran the area. Doucet who had become Governor had to flee. His reputation, especially surrounding his work done in ferreting out traitors such as Latour made him a strong candidate as one of those who would be visiting the gallows or shot by a firing squad. Leaving the unpleasant task of signing the surrender to Guillame Trahan, Germain fled back to Quebec Canada. With him went his son Pierre, Pierre's wife who died in Quebec and his Grandson named Germain after his Grandfather.
Pierre decided to go back to Acadie since things had cooled considerably. Germain the elder knew he would never again be welcome back in that country. He went back to France where he later died. Pierre returned in 1660 six years later. A widower with a, nineteen year old son Pierre soon remarried. His second bride, Henriette Pelletet, was many years his junior actually younger than his own son, Germain. Pierre's second wife was barely fifteen years of age. Pierre at this time was thirty-nine years old. Pierre settled on the coast of Acadie with his young wife. He cleared over four acres of land and was a Mason. On his land he raised cows and sheep as well as a bevy of youngsters. Anne born 1661, Toussaint 1663, Jean 1665, Pierre 1667, Madeline 1670, Louis 1674, Jeanne 1676 Pierre and Henriette did their best to replenish the land with many Frenchman. Pierre's namesake died at the age of three many children died at an early age, in 1678 Henriette gave birth to another son, the couple named him Pierre. Rene followed in 1678 then Marguritte in 1680 then Mathieu was born I 1685.
Pierre's sister Margueite had met and married Abraham Dugas an amourer in 1647. Dugas was from La Chausse France and had come to Acadie in 1640.
Germain Pierre's son married Margurite Landry who died soon after. In a not unusual move since people lived many miles apart and available ladies were few and far between Germain married his sister in law Marie Landry. Germain the second and Marie had a son Laurent Doucet.
Laurent married Jeanne Babin in 1669 in Port Royal, Acadie. They had a son who was named Laurent also. On Janurary 16 in 1722 he married Marie Anne Pellerin. Laurent the second was the first of Germain's line to show the intelligence and leadership his forebear Germain the first had shown. Not content to be a bricklayer like his Grandfather Pierre are a farmer, like his father, he struck out along with his wife for open country.
Many miles of the territory, known as Acadie was uninhabited. The land was free to be claimed with anyone with enough drive to do so. In an area just North of Port Royal, Laurent and his wife Mary Anne, began clearing land. Laurent surveyed the land and began laying out roads and lots in which homes would be built. Living off the land by hunting, trapping keeping a small garden, cows, chickens and sheep, Laurent worked on his dream. After years of hard work and suffering many setbacks Laurent finally was able to go back to Port Royal and other towns in the area. He advertised, talked to whoever would listen and soon had families coming to his town. As the town began to grow and flourish Laurent's fortune began to increase. One night as he and his wife Mary Anne were walking around admiring the new church that was rising rapidly she turned to him.
"What are you going to name your town, Laurent?" Mary Anne had posed this question to her husband many times but he had always shrugged and said he would think about that later.
As he stood with his, strong arm holding his dear wife close to him Laurent admitted.
"I've thought many times of calling our town Doucetville are maybe Germaintown after the great Major Germain Doucet. After all he is the father of all us Doucet's and deserves that honor. But, tonight as I gaze at the church we are building here on the highest point of land in the town, I have to give thanks to our God, his son Jesus and Jesus' holy mother Mary. What do you think of 'Church Point' as a name for our town?"
Mary stood still and thought about what her husband had just said. This was perhaps the longest statement he had ever made in her presence. Laurent was a good man. A tall strong handsome man, an imposing figure with his wild blonde hair that no brush could subdue and his blue eyes that seemed to look through and into a person. Few people attempted to pull the wool over Laurent's eyes. His quiet ways often lulled people into thinking he wasn't intelligent and could be easily fooled. His quick mind and absolute grasp of everything set doubters back on their heels quickly.
"Yes, I agree. Church Point is the perfect name." Mary Anne agreed. Laurent not only sold lots very quickly he personally with a group of hired workers aided the newcomers in building their homes and barns, although he kept the choice plats for himself. Whenever a prospective buyer asked why he couldn't purchase one of the lots near downtown and closer to the church Laurent replied honestly.
"I'm saving those for my children and Grandchildren."
Laurent and Mary Anne found time in their busy schedules to do what all of the French settlers did very well and often, have children. In the year 1722 having married in January of that year the couple was blessed with their firstborn, which they named Michel. The next year in 1723 a daughter was born and was given the popular name of Marguerite. In 1727 their last child Laurent was born. Although the town of Church Point had a church all of the children born they were christened and registered in Port Royal. All of the marriages of couples from that area were done in Port Royal, an official town. Michel married Marguerite Martin January 27, 1749 in Port Royal.
After the wedding a huge entourage of friends and relatives including Mary Anne's Mother and Father Etienne and Jeanne Savoie Pellerin. Etienne was Jeanne's second husband she had been married for a short time to Abraham Brun. Michel's in laws Charles Martin and Jeanne Comeaux Martin presented the couple with a nice new home in Port Royal. Not wanting to hurt his Father in law's feelings Michel accepted the generous gift but also built a home in his father's town of Church Point.
Chapter Three-The LaVergne's
As his Father had, whom he uncannily resembled, Louis LaVergne looked forward to the challenges of a new, world. The family settled in New Orleans and Louis wasted no time getting to know the important people of that town that would be of assistance to him. In a short while the handsome young man with the large smile and friendly manner was accepted into the haute society in New Orleans. His clothes and manners, his lovely young Mother and beautiful sister where large assets in his quest.
One of the contacts he made was a business owner named Edward Thommelin. Mr. Thommelin had been in New Orleans for some time. He had firmly established himself in the proper circles and he took an instant liking to the intelligent young man Louis Lavergne.
Louis found his association profitable. Edward steered him to the correct people and urged Louis to plow some of his money into Plantations. He always said that with a laugh. His little joke was amusing to Louis at first but he soon grew tired of hearing it over and over. He tried to remember to laugh, if he didn't Edward would point out the meaning of the punch line. Get it, plow money into a plantation. Louis liked the older man and was grateful for his assistance. He enjoyed being in his company and Marie Anne, Louis's Mother and Marguerite, his sister loved the parties Mr. Thommelin hosted.
One day, an invitation arrived asking the three to attend. The celebration was in honor of Miss Elizabeth Thommelin who was returning home after spending a few years abroad, mostly in France visiting relatives.
Louis knew he had to be there although he had much to do, especially that day. He had followed Edward's advice and had been negotiating for a large parcel of land many miles northeast of New Orleans. Neither of the ladies in his life showed much enthusiasm about the property. They could not envision living in some desolate place called The Opelousas Territory. Marguerite had been told the land had once been called the Atakkapas Territory after some Indians who had lived there. Not only were some of these Savages still around, they were known to be cannibals.
Story by Lionel A. LaVergne. All copyrights owned by Lionel A. LaVergne. No reprinting without the express written permission of Mr. LaVergne. Posted online, April 14, 2007