Jean is the youngest of Guillaume Pelletier and Michelle Mabille's three sons. Born in Tourouvre, France, Jean is baptized at St-Aubin de Tourouvre Church on June 12, 1627. The first fourteen years of Jean's life are spent in Tourouvre, where he undoubtedly receives his education. In 1641, he accompanies his parents and his uncle Antoine to New France.
Not much is known about Jean from 1641 to 1646. During this span of time he probably is a young helper to his father and uncle in the construction of the early major buildings in Québec City. After the family's purchase of property in 1644, he probably assists in some cultivation of the new farm land.
In August 1646, according to the well kept diary of the Jesuit superior, Father Jean Lalemant, Jean becomes a "donné" of the Jesuits, that is, he gives his services to the Jesuit missionary cause. In return, the Jesuits promise to pay Jean's family 100 francs for the first year of his service. Late in the month of August, 1646, Jean and many others leave Trois-Rivières in a fleet of eighty canoes bound for "Sainte-Marie aux pays des Hurons". This Jesuit outpost is a major fortress as well as a retreat house for the Jesuits on Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. The compound included a church, housing for the French settlers and the Jesuit missionaries, lodges for visiting Hurons, workshops, warehouses, and even a medical dispensary.
Jean spends almost a full year at Sainte-Marie, a fact that is noted in the documents of the restored outpost, and returns to Beauport in 1647.
In June and July, 1647, the bans of marriage are published three times at Québec between Jean Pelletier and Anne Langlois, daughter of Noël Langlois and Françoise Grenier, neighbors at Beauport. The wedding, however, does not take place for another two years because someone realizes that Anne, Jean's fiancée, is only ten years old in the summer of 1647, and the Church does not allow a marriage for anyone under the age of twelve. The wedding ceremony finally takes place at Beauport, in the Seigneur Giffard's manor home on November 9, 1649. Jean, age 22, and Anne, age 12, wed without a formal notarized marriage contract. The young couple moves in with the groom's parents rather than with the bride's family. This is probably due to the fact that the Langlois home, in 1649, houses ten individuals: eight children in addition to the parents. The Pelletier homestead, on the other hand, has only a total of three people: Jean and his parents.
Jean and Anne are blessed with nine children, seven of whom are born at Beauport. The other two are born on Île d'Orléans, across the St-Lawrence River from Beauport:-Noël, born May 3, 1654, dies at Rivière-Ouelle on August 31, 1712, at age 58;
-Anne, born September 18, 1656, dies at La Pocatière in 1696, at age 40;
-René, born March 2, 1659, dies on Île d'Orléans on January 13, 1713, at age 53;
-Antoine, born December 11, 1661, dies two weeks later on December 26, 1661;
-Jean, born April 19, 1663, is buried May 12, 1739, at age 76;
-Marie-Delphine, born January 29, 1666, on Île d'Orléans, dies a few weeks later on February 27, 1666;
-Marie, born May 4, 1667, on Île d'Orléans, is buried at Cap St-Ignace, November 6, 1725, at age 58;
-Charles, born September 26, 1671, is buried at St-Roch des Aulnaies, December 30, 1748, at age 77;
-Marie-Charlotte, born September 29, 1674, dies in 1699, at age 25.
In 1655, while still living at Beauport with his parents, Jean and his brother-in-law, René Chevalier, purchase a small parcel of land along the St-Lawrence River just below the high cliffs of the upper city of Québec. The parcel measures only 30 feet by 30 feet. No mention is made of the purpose for the purchase, nor is there any indication that the parcel was ever put to commercial use. The small parcel is eventually sold in 1674 to Louis Levasseur. After his father's death in 1657, Jean inherits his father's half of the family homestead, as in customary under communal property laws. His mother later gives up her half of the inheritance to her only son. In 1665, Jean begins to rent out part of his land, giving rights to two acres of frontage to Guillaume Lizot. Later he rents out more land to Guillaume Lizot and Robert Gallien.
Short Stay on Île d'Orléans
In 1664, Jean and two of his brothers-in-law purchase land on Ile d'Orléans. Jean, however, does not move his family to the new home until after his mother's death in 1665. His mother-in-law, Françoise Garnier, also dies in 1665, apparently as a result of an accident. The new property on Île d'Orléans has a two acre frontage on the St-Lawrence River and extends back to the road that crosses the island from north to south. It is located in what is today the western portion of St-Pierre parish on the island. Jean and his family remain on Île d'Orléans for only two years. The 1667 census reports that Jean's property has five acres cleared and that the family has a hired hand living with them, seventeen year old Guillaume Lemieux. As noted above, two children are born during the family's stay on the island, Marie-Delphine, who dies two weeks after her birth, and Marie.
On December 28, 1667, Jean sells his property on the island to his neighbor and brother-in-law, Jean Langlois, for 75 pounds and one suit.
Return to Beauport
In the Spring of 1668, Jean and his family return to the original homestead at Beauport, the lease with Lizot and Gallien having run out. It is during this period, in 1670, that Jean's wife Anne, at the age of 33, receives the sacrament of confirmation from the bishop at Québec City. In 1672, Jean and Pierre Grosleau are asked by Nicolas Juchereau to go to Grande-Anse to evaluate the property of Juchereau's deceased son-in-law, François Pallet. The trip to the new area stirs in Jean's mind the idea of moving again to a newer territory.
Two years after his return to Beauport, in 1670, Jean becomes embroiled in a series of court battles over property boundaries between himself and his two neighbors to the east, Jean Migneault and Charles Cadieu-de-Courville. Both had previously purchased land from Jean, and the original dispute is between these two only. However, Jean becomes involved because of his previous land sales. Court decisions are made, appealed, counter-appealed, and the bitter process drags on for six years, until 1676. Jean is eager to have all these disputes settled as soon as possible, since he is thinking of moving from the Beauport homestead. In fact, Jean sells the remainder of his father's original land to Charles Cadieu-de-Courville in 1676, immediately after the final decisions are handed down on the land controversies.
Stop-Over in the Islands
The year before, in 1675, Jean leaves Beauport alone to travel down river to L'Ile-aux-Oies. However he does not settle permanently on that island, for, in 1676, his wife Anne and the five youngest children move toL'Isle-aux-Grues. The two eldest children, Noël and Anne, are no longer living at home: Anne is married since 1670 and Noël since 1674. Both are living with their spouses in the Grande-Anse area nearby.
The family does not remain long on L'Isle-aux-Grues. In 1669, Jean sells his property to Guillaume Lemieux, the family's former hired hand at Île d'Orléans. Lemieux is now Jean's brother-in-law, having married Jean's wife's younger sister, Elisabeth Langlois Côté, widow of Louis Côté, who has three children.
Jean and the remainder of his family make their final move to the Grande-Anse area. This area includes the villages of Rivière-Ouelle, Ste-Anne-de-la-Grande-Anse (later renamed Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière), and St-Roch des Aulnaies.
The whole territory has been ceded to Nicolas Juchereau as Seigneur. Jean and his family acquire a parcel of land at Les Aulnaies in the virgin forest which has a five acre frontage on the St-Lawrence River. As late as 1992, Jean Pelletier's descendants still live on the original property. According to the 1681 census, two years after Jean's arrival, five acres of his land have been cleared, he has nine "horned" animals, and he owns a rifle. As the children grow older and get married, they all leave the homestead, except Charles. He remains with his parents at Les Aulnaies and will inherit the property at the time of his father's death.
In 1690, General Phips has left Boston with his fleet to attack Québec City. As he sails up the St-Lawrence River, he sends raiding parties ashore to terrorize French settlements along the coast.
Forewarned by coastal patrols, the settlers at Grande-Anse, under the leadership of their priest, Abbé Francheville, prepare their defense and repulse Phips' raid on Rivière-Ouelle in the summer of 1690, killing many of Phips' raiders.
Among those listed as brave defenders is Jean Pelletier. Whether it is Jean Pelletier, father, now age 62, or his son Jean who lives in neighboring Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, age 27, is not clear from the archives. Most authors feel that the honor of being one of the heroes at Rivière-Ouelle belongs to the younger Jean.
During his lifetime, Jean's descendants grow to include twenty-six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Jean dies in his 71st year, on February 24, 1698, at Ste-Anne-de-La-Pocatière (Grande Anse) and is buried at Rivière-Ouelle the next day, the 25th.. The local pastor, Bernard de Roqueleyne, P.C., officiated.
Jean's half of the property is inherited by his children, but is taken over by his youngest son, Charles, who has remained at home to work the land. Charles later buys his mother's share of the property on January 12, 1704, shortly before her death. Charles will later buy out the remaining portions of his father's inheritance from his brothers and sisters.
Jean's wife, Anne, moves in with her eldest son, Noël at Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in September of 1700, two and a half years after her husband's death. On March 16, 1704, Anne Langlois dies at the age of 60 at La Pocatière and is buried the next day, March 17, 1704, at Rivière-Ouelle beside her husband, Jean.
Our ancestor Jean Pelletier did not die a rich man, the archives attest to that fact. In the words of Léon Roy, quoted by Father Maurice Pelletier, s.j., "the fact is that he died a poor man, but no less so than most of our ancestors, even those who had a more stable life.
His case differs little from that of the first and second generations in New France. Please, let us not cast any stones at our ancestors. They deserve much more... Don't we all constantly benefit from the sweat that poured from their brows here and there, on one or more homesteads?"
On October 28, 1998, Denis Pelletier, president of the Association des Familles Pelletier, Inc, unveiled a monument and plaque in St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, QC, in honor of Jean Pelletier's settling in the Grande-Anse area. In 1679, Jean Pelletier and Pierre St-Pierre were the first settlers in this area of New France on land granted to them by Nicolas Juchereau. Some of the original land granted to Jean Pelletier is still owned by his descendants.
Below are photos from La Pelleterie, Volume 12, No.4, Autumn 1998, of the monument and the plaque.
The plaque reads (in translation):
The Pelletiers were one of the two founding families
of St-Roch-des Aulnaies.
Jean Pelletier (1627-1698), son of Guillaume, who arrived at Beauport in 1641,
established himself at St-Roch-des-Aulnaies in 1679,
with his spouse, Anne Langlois (1637-1704). There are both buried in
the Rivière-Ouelle cemetery.
The land ceded to Jean Pelletier by Nicolas Jucheraeu in 1679,
in the territory of the Aulnaies, remains to this day
property of his direct descendants.
L'Associations des Familles Pelletier, Inc.
August 7, 1998