Are we getting overly excited over all this?
I guess so.
Michel Lagacé was not a famous person even though he was from St-Ours.
Michel was just a little baby boy born on May 12, 1817. His father Joseph Lagacé was a farmer and probably poor like so many French-Canadians in those days.
That is why more than 900,000 French-Canadians emigrated to the United States in the 1800s and early 1900s instead of starving in Quebec.
So why are we getting all excited about Michel Lagacé aka Mitchell Lagassa? You should ask his descendant Koeni LaGasa or his cousin Dan Hebert.
Dan also asked for my help on Bob’s Facebook Group Page. I could not help myself to help him also with his ancestors since I am a proud descendant of Louis Hébert. I was curious and I wanted to know if Dan and I were even more closely related.
This is the information I found in English on Wikipedia about Louis Hébert.
Louis Hébert (c. 1575 – January 1627) is widely considered to be the first Canadian apothecary as well as the first European to farm in Canada. He was born around 1575 at 129 de la rue Saint-Honoré in Paris to Nicolas Hébert and Jacqueline Pajot. He married Marie Rollet on 13 June 1602 at the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris.
In 1606, he accompanied his cousin in law, Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt et de Saint-Just, to Acadia along with Samuel Champlain. He lived at Port-Royal (now Annapolis, in southern Nova Scotia) from 1606 to 1607 and from 1611 to 1613 when Port-Royal was destroyed by the English deputy governor of Virginia Samuel Argall.
In 1617, with his wife, Marie Rollet, and their three children, Guillaume (3 years old), Guillaumette (9 years old), and Anne (14 years old), he left Paris forever to live in Quebec City. He died there 10 years later because of an injury that occurred when he fell on a patch of ice. Statues of Louis Hébert, Marie Rollet, and their children are prominent in Parc Montmorency overlooking the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City.
At the beginning of 1800, Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet had 4592 descendents married in Quebec, according to the PRDH (Historical Demography Research Program) of the Université de Montréal, making the couple the tenth most important one in French-Canadian ancestry at that time. Given the migratory routes of French-Canadians, their descendents thus live mainly in Canada (especially Quebec and Manitoba), but also in communities in New England, upstate New York, and the midwest (especially Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota)….
Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet had only one son, Guillaume, who married Hélène Desportes, (as well as two daughters Guillaumette and Anne). Guillaume and Helene in turn had a daughter, Francoise Hébert (who married Guillaume Fournier, thus ending the surname Hébert with her line), and a single son, Guillaume, who in turn had a single son, Guillaume, who died as a small child thus ending the surname Hébert with his line. However, some descendants of Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet may also share the name Hébert through marriage of female descendants with other men named Hébert since there were several other male Hébert immigrants to New France or Acadia with posterity.
See René Jetté, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730, Montréal, Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983, pp. 561–562. See also Robert Prévost, Portraits de familles pionnières, Montréal, Éditions Libre Expression, 1993, Tome 1, pp. 149–154. Louis Hebert was born in Paris in 1575, the son of Nicolas Hebert and Jacqueline Pajot. Nicolas was an apothecary with a practice in Paris. In the tradition of the day, Louis followed in his father’s profession. Louis was trained in medical arts and science, becoming s specialist in pharmacology. It was from this that developed what was to become a lifelong interest in plants and gardening. By 1600, Louis was established in Paris as an apothecary and spice merchant. In 1602, he married Marie Rollet.
In 1604, Louis’ cousin, Pierre de Gue, Sieur de Monts, led an expedition to L’Ile Sainte croix in hopes of making a fortune in the fur trade. The expedition’s first winter was very hard. There was a shortage of fresh water and firewood, and 36 to the 80 expedition members died of scurvy. The following summer 1605, the expedition relocated across the bay at Port-Royal (Today known as Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia).
In 1606, Louis joined the expedition, now located at Port-Royal. As a pharmacist he was interested in plants and enjoyed horticulture, seeming to possess a “green thumb” and grew hemp. He was highly regarded, and particular note was made of his knowledge and pleasure in cultivating the land. He participated in the construction of a grist-mill on the Allain River near present-day Annapolis Royal. Experimental farming activities were conducted, with various grains being seeded in the local fields. He looked after the health of the pioneers, and cultivated native drug plants introduced to him by the Micmac Indians. He returned to France in 1607, after the trade concession that had been granted to the de Monts expedition had expired.
In 1610, Louis Hebert returned to Port Royal with Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt. It has been claimed that a few months later his wife joined him and became one of the first French women to come to New France, but the claim has not been documented. Louis continued his agricultural interests, sowing wheat and planting vines. The colony at Port Royal seemed to take root, but in 1613 it was destroyed by the English coming up from Virginia. The French colonists returned to France, and Louis established a medical practice and apothecary (pharmacy) shop in Paris.
At this time, Quebec was a settlement of some fifty white men who were all transient soldiers, fur trappers, or missionaries. The economy of the settlement was dependent on some 20,000 beaver pelts that were annually returned to French merchants in exchange for supplies. The “Compagnie de Canada”, made up of merchants from Rouen, St. Malo, and La Rochelle, had a trading monopoly that controlled the fur trade in Quebec.
Champlain, who founded Quebec in 1608, saw a desperate need for medical service and agricultural self-sufficiency for Quebec. Champlain had met Louis Hebert during the earlier expedition to Port Royal, and had recognized Louis’ outstanding qualities. Champlain approached Louis with an offer from the “Compagnie de Canada”. He had met Louis when they were both in Acadie. They mutually respected each other.
Champlain is spending the winter of 1616-1617 in Paris searching for support for his colony of Quebec. Hébert is allured. He believes there is a good chance for him in the St. Lawrence Valley If Hebert would take his family to Quebec for three years and practice medicine in the settlement and establish farming, the company would pay him an annual salary of 600 livres (pounds) and grant him ten acres of land at the settlement on which to build his house and farm. Louis agreed to the terms and signed the contract. Louis sold his practice and his home, and proceeded with his wife, son, and two daughters to the port of Honfleur, France. When he arrived, Louis was told by the ship’s master that instructions from the Compagnie de Canada were that they could only board if Louis agreed to sign a new contract with the company. The new provision reduced his annual salary to 300 livres per year, required him to serve as the physician and surgeon at the settlement, and required him to farm ten aces of land and give the company exclusive right to buy all of his agricultural products at the prevailing price in France. Having already sold his house and left his practice, Louis reluctantly accepted and signed the new contract.
On April 11, 1617, they left Honfleur aboard the Saint-Etienne (captain Normand Morin) and arrived in Quebec on 15 July. Only five other French families were to follow them on similar voyages to New France in the next 10 years.
In the spring of 1617 Louis became the first private individual to receive a grant of land in the New World from the French Government.
Upon his arrival in Quebec, Louis selected ten acres on a site that is today located in the city of Quebec between Ste. Famille and Couillard Streets on the grounds of the Seminary of Quebec and Basilica of Notre Dame. Soon afterward, Louis started clearing out some old-growth forest so he could plant crops. This put him in conflict with the fur trading company, who was strongly opposed to deforestation for farming because of its adverse effect on the fur business. Louis had to work very hard, doing all the work by hand. The fur trading company wouldn’t even let him import a plough from France. On this land, Louis, his son Guillaume, and an unnamed servant with the help of only an axe, a pick and a spade, broke the soil and raised corn, winter wheat, beans, peas, and livestock including cattle, swine, and fowl. He also established an apple orchard and a vineyard. He overcame the hardships and became the first Canadian to support his family from the soil. He imported from France the first ox to pull a plough in Canada, but unfortunately, the first plough did not arrive until a year after his death.
By 1620, Louis’ hard work was finally recognized as having been of great service to the colony: for being the physician and surgeon; for being its principal provider of food; and, for having fostered good relationships with the natives. He was appointed Procurator to the King, which allowed him to personally intervene in matters in the name of the King.
In 1621, his daughter Guillemette married Guillaume Couillard who joined the family business.
In 1623, Louis became the first “Seigneur” of New France when he was granted the noble fief of “Sault-au-Matelot”. In 1626 he was further granted “le fief de la riviere, St Charles” in recognition of his meritorious service.
Louis died on January 25, 1627 from injuries suffered after slipping on ice. The colony holds a funeral for the first colonist. Louis is a respected by the Indians as the other Frenchmen. He is first buried in the cemetery of the Recollets. In 1678 his remains inside his cedar coffin were transported to the newly built vault of the Recollets with the remains of Peaceful brother Duplessis. They were the first to be laid to rest in this new structure. . Jacques Lacoursiere noted he had many firsts. He was the first colonist of Quebec, first colonist to live off the land, his daughter Anne’s marriage to Etienne Jonquet in 1617 is the first in New France, and he is the first lord of New France.
When English corsairs, the Kirke brothers, take possession of Quebec his family doesn’t leave. They wait out the three years until it is returned to France.
Louis Hebert did not leave any direct descendants bearing his name. His son Guillaume had a son Jacques who married Marie Despoitiers but was tortured to death by the Iroquois on the Island of Orleans before there were any children.
Marie Rollet quietly remarries Guillaume Hubou two years after Louis’ death. After the three year occupation by the English, Champlain asks her to move to Quebec and Louis’ house became an Indian youth hostel entrusted to the Jesuits for their education.
There is a monument to Louis Hebert in Montmorency Park. In seeing it you will understand the importance of Louis Hebert and his family in the beginnings of Quebec. On one side is Louis Hebert holding a sheaf of corn in one hand and a sickle in the other. On part of the base, Marie Rollet clasps her three children in her arms. On the other, son-in-law Guillaume Couillard has a plough in hand. The first plough was not imported to New France until one year after the death of Louis Hebert.
Quite an ancestor!
Guillaumette was my 9th grandmother. Her father Louis Hébert was my 10th grandfather.
I believe I have about a thousand or so 10th grandfathers.
8 3rd grandfathers
16 4th grandfathers
32 5th grandfathers
64 6th grandfathers
128 7th grandfathers
256 8th grandfathers
512 9th grandfathers
1024 10th grandfathers
Another famous ancestor is Jean Nicolet.
I got a little crazy over that fact. Just a little.
Getting back to Mitchell Lagassa, he is only a 4th cousin four times removed. So why write about him on this blog?
Because he is the ancestor of thousands and thousands of Americans who one day will find this blog and get all excited about him and maybe have a picture of Michel or one of his famous descendant.
In the Navy…
I visited a few times Montmorency Park in Quebec City, but that was before I knew about my famous 10th great-grandfather.
Now going back to Quebec City will never be the same anymore…
Footnote to the footnote
I should have ask Dan if he knew all about his Hébert ancestors in the first place before I started searching.