Marie LaFaille or Mary LaFay (1767-1836): The Battle for Mary’s Soul – 52 Ancestors #396

The difference in the name of Marie Lafaille and Mary Lafay, the same person, is emblematic of her life – a clash of cultures. Tug of war. Catholic versus Protestant – and no – this isn’t Northern Ireland’s Troubles. It’s Canada.

This conflict raged all of her life, beginning before Marie was born to Francois Lafaiille or Lafay as he signed his name, and Marguerite LaForest, Forest or LaForet, until the day Mary, as she was called then, died – and even beyond.

Except Marie/Mary became emblematic of the battle, ensnared in the crosshairs.

Both sides used Marie or Mary as a shining example of what one should aspire to, or, as a shamed example of what one should never do. In the process, or perhaps I should say, during that war, her family was torn apart, never to reconcile.

Ironically, it’s a result of that clash and the role Marie, or Mary, played that we know much about her life. Granted, the information we have is, to some extent, somewhat biased, but at least we have SOMETHING!

I worked on Marie’s history about 15 years ago with now-deceased Paul LeBlanc and others. It’s truly complex. But it’s time to commit to paper what I know, with the hope that others may be able to contribute additional information.

One day, in 2008 or 2009, a tidbit was dropped by a cousin on the now-defunct Acadian RootsWeb message board. He mentioned Marie and “the missionaries”.

The Missionaries?


What missionaries?

Probably Catholic missionaries, given that Marie was Acadian, but I needed to know more. Any tidbit is a reg flag to genealogists.

Further digging slowly revealed scraps of information like layers of earth being excavated from an artifact. This prized artifact is Marie or Mary’s life.

First, Marie had become protestant. Protestant? An Acadian?


Second, I discovered the name of a book, thankfully in English, that told bits of this story. Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission was written to honor the Baptist missionaries, so readers need to interpret the contents in that context.

We had always thought that Marie had been born in Connecticut based on the fact that her aunts and uncles, at least some of them, were deported to Connecticut. Her father, Jacque Fourest is listed there with 10 persons in 1763.

We know that Marie’s mother, Marguerite DeForest, was married about 1765 someplace in New England to Francoise LaFaille, reportedly a French sailor. For the ten years before her marriage, she would have been living with her parents and siblings.

Nothing is known about either Francoise or the LaFaille family.

However, if the missionaries’ records are accurate, they reveal that Marie, who was born in 1767, was born in Boston. Her two directly younger sisters, born in 1769 and 1773, were born in New England too.

I have found no record of Francois Lafaille or Lafay, as Francois always signed his name, and Marguerite deForest, Forest or deForet in Massachusetts, but no record elsewhere in the colonies either.

Francois Lafaille and his wife, Marguerite De Forest (Forest, Foret and derivatives) first appeared in L’Acadie, in lower Canada, in 1788 with 9 of their 10 children. The youngest was born in January of 1789. Marie’s mother was probably pregnant as the family made their way to Canada.

The area broadly known as L’acadie, outlined in red, isn’t far from the St. Lawrence River and Montreal. It’s even closer to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on the Richelieu River.

The Lafay family lived someplace in the L’Acadie farming community, close to Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie Catholic church, at the red arrow. Family members are buried in the cemetery there.

Marie’s parents had their three oldest daughters baptized at Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie in 1789, and their own marriage renewed in 1792. They had been married in the colonies in front of a clerk without benefit of a priest after the 1755 Acadian deportation from Nova Scotia.

On August 10th, 1789, Marie Lafay married Honore Lore, of the Acadian Lore family..

From Paul:

I found the marriage of your ancestor Marie Lafay and Honoré Lord. From what I can read from the original records they were married on August 10, 1789 in L’Acadie, QC parish of Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie. Honoré lord is said to be the son of Honoré Lord and deceased Apolline Garceau. Marie Lafay is said to be the daughter of François Lafay and Marguerite Foret. The following witnesses have signed: Honoré Lord father, Charles Lanoue friend of the spouse, Marie Lafay, Francois Lafay, Françoise Lafay, Marguerite et Suzanne Lafay.

Paul states that the text is handwritten and in French so somewhat difficult to read, and that caution should be used with his interpretation.

Not only is this an incredible record, it gives us the signatures of Marie herself, her new husband, Honore Lore, her father, Francois Lafay in a beautiful script, and two of her sisters. I’m presuming here, that the Marguerite that signed was her sister and not her mother, who would have signed as Marguerite DeForest.

Now that we know where Marie is in 1789, the year she was baptized for the second time and then married, how did she get there?

Marie LaFaille Lore

I discovered additional information in the book, Canadian Baptist Women, edited by Sharon M. Bowler.

“Madame Mary Lore,” in fact, receives her own chapter entitled A Lower Canada Baptist Beginning.

Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “Weren’t the Acadians Catholic?”, you’d be absolutely right. In fact, Acadians identify themselves by their very Catholicness.

The Acadians had suffered greatly for roughly a century and a half by the time they were horrifically removed from their land in Nova Scotia in 1755. They continued to suffer, many perishing during their exile as impoverished refugees in New England and elsewhere. They had endured extreme deprivations for their Catholic faith, and it sustained them. To turn one’s back on Catholicism was just about the worst act of betrayal one could commit or even conceive of in an Acadian family.

Let me put this in perspective. Marie’s mother, Marguerite DeForest, is the only known child of her parents. Marguerite was born about 1747 or 1748. Her parents were married in 1734 in Port Royal, so they should have had 10 or 12 children, maybe more, before the deportation in 1755. Yet the only child whose birth record we find is Marguerite’s. Did they live elsewhere, outside Port Royal, meaning their children’s baptism records have not survived? Birth control not only didn’t exist, but this family was Catholic. The family was deported because they were Catholic. They lost everything. They suffered. If all of Marguerite’s siblings perished during the deportation, she would have witnessed it all. If they did not perish, where are their records as adults?

Therefore, Marie’s own parents and grandparents had suffered through genocide in order to remain Catholic. Everyone suffered indescribably, many were forever separated, with no idea what happened to their family members, and countless numbers died in the process. No family escaped.

For Marie to leave the fold, the family who experienced and remembered suffering firsthand, to become Baptist was incomprehensible. It’s not a matter of changing churches and attending services at the one down the street.

New believers in any religion are referred to as converts. Converts are often considered betrayers and heretics from the perspective of their former religion, especially if their conversion was by choice, not force.

The author of Canadian Baptist Women explains that conversion from Catholicism to the Baptist faith is more than just occupying a different pew in a church. (Footnotes are mine, not in the original text.)

Baptists differ from Catholics in their use of and belief in the Bible, in their manner of interpreting the way of salvation, justification, the freeness of salvation, grace in regeneration, repentance and sanctification, church and church government, and in the concepts surrounding the understanding of death. A person moving from a Roman Catholic to a Baptist faith foundation took, in many ways, an opposite faith direction, which posed risks to their social, economic, and physical safety.

After reading that, I remind myself how many wars have been fought and sacrileges have been committed over and in the name of religion.

Consequences included shunning, expulsion, ostracization, exclusion from family, business, and social life, exclusion from Catholic burial, and condemnation to Hell.

A Lower Canada Baptist Beginning draws the curtains back on Marie’s story by referring to her as Mary and her married name, Lore. French women were generally referred to, even after marriage, by their birth surname.

Mary Lore’s family was part of the 1755 Acadian expulsion from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts called Le Grand Derangement that drove an entire culture into political, economic and social crisis. The Acadians were not a free people in their new American land and experienced much uncertainty and danger.

Mary was born Marie Lafaille in Boston, Massachusetts to an Acadian mother and French father. Her 1767 Boston birth occurred at a time when many Massachusetts Acadians travelled to Boston to petition for transport to return to Canada.[1] [2]

Some, however, were considering staying, taking into account:

…the dangers of sea travel, which included storms, sinking, contagions and even piracy, recently illustrated by the fate of 80 young Acadians taken and pressed into the service of privateers. They knew that they retained no place or residual rights in Nova Scotia. Moreover, old age, the very ache of their 50-year-old bones, reminded them how difficult it would be to scratch out a new place on leftover and, thus difficult, lands. Just perhaps, they still resisted taking an oath to the throne…Just possibly they and their children began to envision rural Massachusetts as home…children had no doubt learned English and accustomed themselves to the ways of these strangers. Time had not resulted in their isolation, and familiarity with Protestants and colonial law had not bred contempt.[3]

Perhaps the Lafaille family had settled in and become somewhat established over the 11 years since the expulsion from Nova Scotia began. Children had been born and others were nearly raised. Mary was educated in a Protestant school and learned to read the Bible there.

Someplace along the line, Marie Lafaille became Mary LaFay, spelled the way it sounded in English. Her father signed his surname the same way.

In 1766, a year before Marie’s birth, a Massachusetts delegation visited Quebec and obtained permission for Acadians to return.

Yet, Marie’s family did not move to Quebec at that time. They didn’t join other Acadian families until sometime about 1788, more than two decades later.

We know that the family was in L’Acadie on the Richelieu River in Quebec by January 6, 1789, when Marie and two of her sisters, Marguerite and Susanne, were baptized in the Catholic Church.

On January sixth Seventeen Hundred Eighty Nine, I, priest undersigned, baptized conditionally Marie, age twenty-one, Marguerite, age nineteen, and Suzanne, age sixteen and ten months, daughters of François La Faye and of Marguerite Foret. The godfather and godmother of Marie were Laurent Roy and Isabelle Bro, his wife, undersigned. The godfather and godmother of Marguerite were Pierre Lavoie and Marie Anne Melanson, his wife. The godfather and godmother of Suzanne were Pierre Trahant and Euphrosine Leroux. [These last] godfathers and godmothers declared that they were unable to sign. The baptized girls signed with us.

/s Lamité, priest,  Laurent Roy, Isabelle bro, Marie Lafay, Margit Lafay, Suzanne Lafay, Françoise Lafay.

If Marie was 21 on January 6th, she very likely was still to experience her 1789 birthday, in which she would turn 22, placing her birth in 1767.

Just five days later, their youngest sister, Francoise, was born and baptized the same day.

Marie was her sponsor, signed her name, and stood up at her sister’s baptism, swearing before God, the church, and the parishioners that she would raise her sister in the church should something happen to her parents.

A Clue

One clue about where they might have lived is that sometime before the family left Massachusetts, Mary said that she received a Bible from Pliny Moore, an American military Lieutenant, a Baptist, and then a Congregational Church leader. Pliny was born into a wealthy Sheffield, Massachusetts family in 1759.

Pliny’s family was in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, by 1764 and in Spencertown, NY, by 1770, where his parents remained.

Many Acadians were, in essence, “adopted” or sponsored by wealthy Massachusetts families. Pliny served in the American Revolution in New York, then settled in Champlain shortly thereafter.

Mary reportedly cherished that Bible from Pliny for the rest of her life. I can’t help but wonder if it survives now.

From the book, Canadian Baptist Women:

Roman Catholic church histories have focused on the power and authority of Catholic leadership over the souls of the congregation. Baptists, however, unlike Roman Catholics of the 20th century, emphasized their personal relationship with God.

Years later, Mary said she enjoyed reading the Bible as a child, but she was no longer allowed to read the Bible after her Catholic baptism in 1789.

Mary was the first Baptist convert in Quebec. She eventually became one of the earliest founders of the Grande Ligne Baptist Mission in Quebec, on the Richelieu River. But how did she get there, and why?

The L’Acadie Area

In 1784, the area near Champlain, New York, on the border of New York and Canada, was settled by Scotch and French-Canadian refugees on lands granted by the State of NY to those who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War.

In 1787, Pliny Moore, a veteran, obtained land where Champlain, New York, would eventually be located. In 1788, Pliny surveyed the land and in 1789, he moved his family. Champlain is just downriver from l’Acadie, so perhaps these families planned their move together, and maybe even joined each other on the journey. Somehow Marie and Pliny knew each other, and their lives intersected many more times.

According to what Mary told the Baptist missionaries, her elderly grandmother, who would have been Marie Josèphe Le Prince, became upset in 1787 that her children were losing their religion and culture and made the decision to send the family back to Canada.

Mary also revealed that she had encouraged her father to make the 1788 trip to Canada after something she recalled as “a fearful disappointment.” I wonder if her disappointment was personal in nature, perhaps a suitor, or something more widespread. It is interesting to note that Pliny Moore was married in January of 1787 in Vermont. It may or may not be relevant, but it is a possibility.

We don’t know what Mary’s disappointment was, but according to historian Joseph Amato’s research into one Acadian family, Marie’s family’s experience may have been similar.

The Revolutionary War magnified federal and state debts, leaving the majority with useless currency and no means to repay debts, turning newly ordained national citizens into ordinary migrants and squatters. The battle raged between creditors and debtors. Between the financial and mercantile coast against the farmers of the inland countryside. Shay’s Rebellion, an intense revolt of the indebted in Massachusetts resulted in a terrible shock to the new nation. It ended in 1787 having accomplished little. Many migrated back to the larger coastal cities where there was a chance to find work and make money, or initiating the great trek inward toward the frontiers.

And so, the great trek it was.

Mary’s grandmother was probably ecstatic, but ultimately, Mary was not. After arriving in l’Acadie, Mary later said that she was forced to stop reading her Bible when she was baptized in January 1789 “under condition,” along with her sisters, into the Catholic Church.

Under condition in the Catholic church means that there is some doubt as to whether a person was ever baptized, or if so, whether the former Catholic baptism is valid.

Mary could not have married a Catholic man were she not baptized into the church. The only men in Quebec were Catholic.


Did Mary not want to marry Honore Lore? Was this an arranged marriage, if not in the traditional sense, then in the functional? She was baptized on January 6th and married on August 10, 1789.

It might be relevant that her first child, Joseph, was born on March 8th, 1790, so Mary and Honore clearly had a close relationship by June. Young people fall in love quickly. The marriage does not appear to have been arranged, although it may have been somewhat unplanned. I feel much better knowing there was an attraction between them, and that Mary appears to have had a choice.

Mary and Honore had at least 15 children, and man oh man, have they been difficult to track. I’m still not positive I have everyone accounted for.

I’ve used various pieces of information to weave the family together. Baptism, marriage and death records, the 1851, 1861 and 1871 Canadian census, and estate records. I’ve not been able to locate the baptism record, or death record, for every child. “Confirmed” in the table below means that I have some confirmation. Unfortunately, due to same-name and other issues, there’s a lot of incorrect information about this family online.

Fortunately, French Catholic priests’ records tend to be very good about recording the names of the parents in the various documents, plus the mother’s birth surname. Thank goodness! Reading them both from a script and image quality perspective is quite another matter.

Bolded names signed their father’s estate inventory in 1834.

Child Birth or Baptism Death or Burial Spouse Religion
Joseph Lore March 8, 1790 confirmed May 30, 1835, confirmed he was married to Celeste Celeste Coulombe confirmed married in 1815 Catholic buried St. Jean l’Evangeliste in St. John sur Richelieu
Samuel Lore August 31, 1791 confirmed Jan 23, 1821 confirmed Archange Hubert (Hebert) confirmed Nov. 7, 1814 Catholic, died before Marie’s conversion
Marie Elizabeth Lore – listed as Baptist in 1851 census, but stricken through May 1, 1793 confirmed February 20, 1857 buried Grande Ligne confirmed Jean-Baptiste Leveque (Elizabelle in 1819 marriage record) Baptized and buried Feb. 20 at Baptist church, Grande Ligne
Marie (Josephte) Lore December 19, 1794 confirmed After 1871 Single in 1861 & 1871 census, “deaf and dumb” The birth is shown as 1797 or 1798 in all three censuses. No burial found
Marie (Victoire) Lore (twin) July 17, 1796 confirmed June 30, 1831 buried St, Jean sur Richelieu – her husband was listed as Catholic in 1851 as were the children. Albert Patenaude. She is listed as Marie Victoire Laure in her 1819 marriage) He signs estate. Also remarried in Nov. of 1831. Catholic, died before Marie’s conversion
Hyppolite Lore (twin) July 17, 1796 confirmed July 18, 1796 confirmed, buried l’Acadie The baptism says Marie and Hippolite.and is signed by father. Catholic, died as child
Alexis Lore (twin) March 24, 1798 confirmed July 28, 1874 or 1875 buried l’Acadie – Grande Ligne Baptist, confirmed Never married, single on all census Baptist, 1861 census shows him as a Baptist farmer age 60
Pierre Lore (twin) March 24, 1798 confirmed July 1, 1799 buried l’Acadie confirmed Catholic, died as child
Benoni Lore February 6, 1800 confirmed (father signed) Sept 15, 1888 buried Grande Ligne, confirmed Francoise Therrien, married 1823 confirmed Listed as Baptist in 1851 census, but stricken through
Honore Lore March 21, 1802 (confirmed) February 23, 1882, confirmed Henriette Molleur confirmed 1828

Louise Piedalue

Baptist in 1851 census, buried Grande Ligne
Rene Zephyrin Lore August 26, 1803 confirmed signed by Honore November 5, 1877 Marie-Rose Lecuyer confirmed 1833 Baptist in 1861 census, buried Grand Ligne
Antoine “Anthony” Lore March 24, 1805 confirmed 1862/1868 Warren Co., PA Rachel Hill confirmed 1831 Unknown, not Catholic
Celeste Lore September 13, 1806 – cannot find baptism January 13, 1860, Hebron, NY confirmed Jean-Baptiste Labossiere – marriage record in St. Luc says child of Hilaire Laure de St Jean and Francoise LaFaris or Lafave Baptist, child married at Grande Ligne in 1847
Pierre Lore March 17, 1808 – confirmed September 3, 1814 buried l’Acadie confirmed Catholic
Marguerite Lore April 24, 1810 confirmed March 11, 1855, confirmed Laurent Labossiere Catholic buried l’Acadie

It’s interesting that Marie had two sets of twins.

Of these children, nine, in bold, signed Honore’s estate inventory record after his death in April 1834. I’ll be telling that story separately, as a kind soul has offered to translate the documents for me as she can.

Their three living, married, daughters signed with their husbands on Honore’s estate inventory which helped confirm Marie’s children, but I still can’t sort them out entirely.

Marie had two children who never married – Alexis and a female recorded as Marie, Marie J. and Josephte Lore/Lord in various censuses. I finally found her birth record, but never found a burial record. She’s recorded as Baptist, so clearly buried at Grande Ligne.

Josephte Lord, a 63-year-old single Baptist woman, is noted as “deaf and dumb,” meaning she could not hear, so she consequently could no speak. Dumb did not mean unable to learn, although without being able to communicate, learning was impossible.

In the 1851 census, Rene, Alexis (age 51) and a female named Marie J. Lord, age 54, are all recorded in the same positions, as they are for the 1861 and 1871 census too. This suggests, strongly, that all of these people are living in Rene Lord’s household.

In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, she is listed adjacent, then with, Rene Lord’s family, and also beside Alexis Lord, also single. We know that the census has recorded Rene’s and Alexis’s ages incorrectly, so Josephte’s may be wrong too.

Mary must have worried incredibly about this daughter who clearly could neither make her own way in the world, nor protect herself from becoming vulnerable and being taken advantage of. Today, she could have learned to speak and communicate, enlarging her world beyond silence. It’s also worth noting that she did not sign her father’s estate inventory, probably because they could not communicate with her at that level.

Her family took care of her all of her life.

Marie/Mary Lafaille/Lafay Lore died in August of 1836, which means that she buried six of her children, three as adults – one just a year before her death.

  • Marie Hippolyte, one of a set of twins, died the day after her birth in 1796.
  • Marie had a set of twin boys born in 1798. One, Pierre, died at 16 months of age in the summer of 1799.
  • They apparently tried naming a child Pierre again, but the second Pierre died in 1814 when he was six.
  • Samuel, her second oldest child died at age 30 in 1821.
  • Her daughter Marie died at 34 years of age in 1831.
  • Son Joseph died at 45 in May of 1835.

Mary helped care for and nurture several orphaned grandchildren in addition to a daughter who could not hear or speak, and a male child who never married.

These children who preceded Mary in death would have been buried in the Catholic cemetery at Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie. If they ever had stones, they don’t today.

1808 – Fork in the Road

Something happened in Mary’s life in 1808. Somehow, Mary retrieved her Bible that had been given to her by Pliny Moore. Mary was 41 years old and explained to the Baptist missionaries that she realized, with her reading of the scriptures, that she could no longer follow the Roman Catholic Church, although the rest of her family remained committed to that faith. According to Canadian Baptist Women, “She found that it was a struggle to keep her growing family (she eventually had 8 children), her husband and parents respectful of her Bible as she shared it with them.”

It appears that, in some way, Mary maintained contact with Pliny Moore, who lived just downstream in Champlain until his death in 1822. Moore was involved in the fur trade business in lower Canada. He had connections, owned property and businesses in Montreal. In other words, he would have gone back and forth, either by water or horseback.

The path from Champlain to Montreal was up Lake Champlain, the Richelieu River, and right past L’Acadie where Mary lived. If Pliny took the road, he would have literally gone right past Mary’s home, probably regularly stopping to visit.

In 1814, Moore was able to obtain a French Bible for Mary. She stated that it enabled her to “better understand her growing walk with the Lord.”

It seems that about this time, Mary reached a turning point in her religious life. She went for confession in the Catholic church, and according to her report, “unexpectedly and suddenly realized during this confession that the priest had no right to intervene on her behalf in her personal relationship with the Lord.”

In Champlain, Pliny Moore was becoming increasingly more evangelical and influential. In 1816, Mary obtained from Pliny a copy of the Bible for each of her children. Ironically, it was eventually through her adult children that she learned of the Baptist missionary work that was undertaken.

We know nothing more of Mary’s religious leanings between 1816 and 1835 when Mary Lore is reported as being the first French Canadian Baptist convert, but we do know more about her family.

Family Challenges

Like all families of that time, Marie, or Mary would have faced her share of grief and joy. A woman’s family was more than a full-time responsibility and Mary had a very large family.

In July of 1794, daughter Marie Josephte was born, probably without hearing. Since she never spoke, it’s unlikely that she had ever been able to hear. It would have been some time before the family realized that Marie could not hear, and they would have developed some form of communication with her.

In July of 1796, a twin daughter, Marie Hippolyte, was born and died the following day.

In 1798, her next pregnancy was also twins – both boys. One, Pierre, died 16 months later.

The 1808 event that may have precipitated Mary’s religious crisis, of sorts, could have been related to the birth of a second child named Pierre.

Mary’s last child was born in 1810 when she was 43 years old. That child, along with the rest were baptized Catholic.

In September of 1814, her son Pierre died, a little boy of six and a half. We don’t know if Pierre had some sort of life-altering issue from birth, or if he simply fell victim to the many childhood ills that claimed so many.

That happens to be the same year that Mary obtained the French Bible from Moore, so she may have been seeking comfort.

Three months later, son Samuel married, but he too would die in 1821.

Mary’s mother, Marguerite DeForest died in 1819. It’s never easy when parents die, but at least her parents lived long lives, in spite of their years in exile.

Elizabeth married in 1819, followed by Benoni in 1823.

Mary’s father, Francois Lafay died in 1824.

Son Antoine, by then using the name Anthony, married in Starksboro, Vermont in 1831, so he had clearly left home before that time.

Rene married about the same time, as did daughter, Celeste.

Then, Mary’s eldest son Joseph died on May 30, 1831, just 41 years old.

Mary must have been crushed every time a child died. Deaths as babies are bad enough, but adult children who died have been loved by their mother for decades, not days or months. Furthermore, she also would have had to watch her grandchildren’s mourning and grief, too.

Grandchildren are every grandmother’s soft spot.

Mary’s husband, Honore Lore died on March 5, 1834. But she wasn’t done yet,

Mary’s son, Joseph died on May 30, 1835 at 45 years of age.

Mary’s children were all married, except Alexis and Marie Josephte who never married.

The Missionaries Arrive

It just so happens that this cascade of grief occurred about the time that the Baptist missionaries were increasing their presence, amidst almost universal resistance, in lower Quebec. Mary’s daughter had died in 1831, followed three years later by Honore’s death. Then, only 13 months later, her adult son perished too.

Mary was at her lowest point of grief, having lost her husband and adult children in a short time. She would have been emotionally quite vulnerable, seeking comfort that she was no longer finding in the Catholic church.

Mary’s life was about to change. In many ways, it seems that she became one of the spoils of war, with both sides fighting over her. She served as a symbol of something much larger.

From Canadian Baptist Women:

Swiss missionary Louis Roussy arrived in Grande Ligne to take charge of a Roman Catholic school. His Protestant evangelism there found him without a position within only two months of his arrival, when “the parish priest having heard of ‘his evangelizing’ had the school closed by his sole authority.”

Madame Feller, another Swiss missionary encountered similar issues in Montreal, and sought refuge in Grande Ligne in 1836. When Mary eventually met these missionaries, they were both failing in their ministry. It took Mary’s intervention in their ministry to begin the work at the Grand Ligne Mission.

The Roussy family led the Baptist charge, as told in Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

On Jan. 29, 1836, Henrietta Feller was not yet in L’Acadie as shown by her letter. She notes that M. Roussy obtained a school in L’Acadie.

“Meanwhile M. Roussy had obtained a school at L’Acadie. He held it for two months only. His evangelical leanings could not be endured by the priest of the district; for he preached from house to house. Dismissed from the school, he resolved to engage in Gospel work as an evangelist, and soon had cause to thank God for the enforced change. Several instances of conversion occurred, and there were promising appearances of a spiritual harvest.” (Cramp)

April 22, 1836 – another letter.

The opposition of Romanists to Protestants, existing for ages, was active at the time under review, and it was not strange that after six months of Christian activity in Montreal, the hotbed of Romanism in the Canadas, it should become unendurable. The priests and the nuns succeeded in closing all doors against Madame Feller. But she had become acquainted with the people, their character, ways and religious ideas, and thus prepared herself for the larger work which Providence had in reserve for her. Montreal, closed now to the Gospel for the French, was to be opened at a later day and a good degree of success achieved.

“Mr. Roussy remained but ten days in Montreal and then left for Grande Ligne to take charge of a primary school entirely Roman Catholic. After his school hours he would devote his time to making the Gospel known around him. The parish priest having heard of this had the school closed by his sole authority, none of the parties interested having the courage to make any opposition, to retain a school teacher superior to any one they had known before.”

Madame Feller, thus compelled to leave Montreal, retreated to St. Johns, where she first landed.

She engaged rooms there for herself and a school, she entered the place on May 20th. Mr. Roussy united with her in effort in that place, hoping to establish a preaching station. But it also seemed to be a barren field.

“Priestly opposition could not be overcome. He had obtained the use of the Methodist chapel and sought to gain an introduction for the Gospel by colportage. All his endeavors were useless. Not only did the inhabitants of St. Johns, generally, refuse to listen to him, but some of them employed force. The French-Canadian women set themselves against the truth, and so maltreated Mr. Roussy that he was compelled to desist from his labors.”

Madame Feller’s account of the situation is thus given: “We came to St. Johns, feeling our way, and considering it as a place of observation, in which we might ascertain whether we should pitch our tent there or in any other spot. We had not long to wait before we saw that this village shut all its doors against us. Brother R. began to preach. At first he had a few hearers, but after a little while no one attended. He tried to publish the Gospel from house to house, but with two or three exceptions he was ill treated and driven away. At one place he was beaten by a crowd of women who fell upon him, armed with sticks. This was noised abroad. ‘The minister who was beaten ‘ was the subject of common talk, and hatred became more violent.” Contempt easily grew into hatred.

“I had made the acquaintance of a considerable number of women, to whom I read and explained the word of God. They listened for a time, and some of them seemed to be seeking the truth; but it was not even ‘the morning dew.’ I soon saw that they were influenced by self-interest; they would have willingly left off going to mass if I had paid them well. As there is no free school here, I offered to instruct their children. My offer was joyfully accepted, and I began a school; but the priest forbade them to allow their children to come to me, and the project fell to the ground.” The expenses of living, including the cost of keeping a horse, so necessary to Mr. Roussy, were so heavy as to justify their removal.

During their short stay in St. Johns, they had a token from the Lord which sustained their belief that He was pleased with their offering of themselves on His altar. It was the example of one who had forsaken popery and had the privilege of protesting against its tyranny in a public way. One of the converts in I’Acadie had died, witnessing to the saving power of Christ to the very last, in the face of contempt from Romanists, even of her own domestic circle. It was Madame Lore, who figures strongly in the starting of the Grande Ligne Mission.

She was the daughter of a French sailor, who lived near to Boston and where she passed her childhood years. She then enjoyed the privilege of hearing and reading the word of God. But her father was married to a Catholic and removed to Canada, and there she also married a Catholic, embraced his religion and practiced it for twenty years.

It is very interesting in that Mary’s father is identified as a French sailor. Elsewhere her birth location is given as Boston.


From Canadian Baptist Women:

Mary met the missionaries through her son Alexis, and when Missionary Roussy was driven from his school by the priest, Mary invited him to hold his first church services in 1835 with her son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Leveque and her daughter Elizabeth in their home in Grande Ligne. The story describes a young girl who was in fact Mary’s granddaughter, and who was also Madame Feller’s pupil. This story documents some of the difficulties faced by the missionaries and places Mary’s family at the center:

The general belief they entertained concerning the two first missionaries was that they were witches. Madame Feller was, in their estimation, the greater one, for she had taught a young girl to read fluently in two weeks, while in other schools this was not accomplished in less than two years.

This was for awhile so firmly established among Canadians that some did not even dare to touch her garments, much less to allow her to come into their houses. A short time after that, when the mission house was almost finished, the priests thought it expedient to invent some new tale, relative to the missionaries, that would keep their parishioners from being led astray by the Protestants. From the pulpit resounded declarations which struck the people with terror.

It was stated by the priests that Satan had made a sort of bargain with M. Roussy to this effect: “This heretic,” to use their expression, was engaged to delude a certain number of souls for a certain sum of money, and according to their opinion, he was building, with that money, a magnificent dwelling house for the purpose of alluring the souls of men with greater facility.

Of course, it was the Mission that was believed to be the Devil’s House, and the article goes on to explain that the neighbors reported all types of horrible sounds resulting from demonic battles emanating from Roussy’s home.

Mary’s Conversion

A Baptist minister recorded the circumstances of Mary’s conversion stating that she was a Catholic for about 20 years after her marriage, “though not without much uneasiness of mind.”

He went on to say that after Pliny Moore, then referred to as Judge Moore, had given Marie the French Bible, she had been “reminded of the days of her youth and resisted her convictions and extinguished the light which once gleamed over her mind. The last 20 years of her life had been spent in folly.”

Given Mary’s baptism in 1789, this puts her realization about 1809.

Mary reportedly decided to go for confession but could not utter a word. The priest, disgusted, reportedly absolved her of her sins and told her to go away. Mary reportedly said, “Can this be the right way. He has absolved my sins, yet he does not know what they are. This cannot be the right way,” resolving never to go to confession again.

Apparently, Mary still attended church from time to time, until the Priest was warning against reading the Bible and said, “The reading of the Scriptures by the common people is like mixing poison with good bread. The person eats the bread without suspecting poison is in it, and only learn the evil by the consequences which ensue.”

After that, Mary never returned to the Catholic church, although I do wonder if she attended her grandchildren’s baptisms and her children’s funerals. I have not reconstructed her children’s families, but I imagine she had several grandchildren that died as well.

Mary’s foiled confession may have occurred sometime between 1814 and 1818, because her next recorded act was obtaining Bibles for her children.

She reportedly anguished greatly during this time period because of the manner in which she had raised her children, meaning in the Catholic church. No one said this, but I also wonder if she blamed their disabilities and deaths on herself and questioned whether or not their souls were in Heaven or Hell. Of course, this questioning would also have extended to any grandchildren who perished during this time too.

Poor Mary.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Recalling her early habits of reading the Bible, she again turned to it and continued to peruse it to the end of her life; was enlightened and renounced Romanism. It was not until her sixty-eighth year, however, that she met the needed help to becoming a Christian; not until Mr. Roussy went to L’Acadie to labor. He was the means of securing to her the joys of pardon. After making her acquaintance he went to visit one of her married daughters, residing at Grande Ligne, and gladly was admitted to her home, with the privilege of preaching there. Great blessings followed the conversion of souls and the full, successful introduction of evangelical religion among the French Romanists of Canada.

I’d wager that Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth Leveque, was her best friend. Probably her only friend. At least Mary had one accepting family.

Mary was clearly estranged, if not immediately, then shortly, from the rest of her children. I wonder about Marie Josephte, who clearly would not have understood, and Alexis. Did Alexis live with Mary? I would wager that he did.  

Canadian Baptist Women:

The Baptists believed that “Brother Roussy has removed the darkness from her mind and introduced her to the marvelous light of the gospel…she was filled with joy and peace. From this time to the day of her death, she walked with God. Her spiritual journey in this world was short and her end was peace – she fell asleep in Jesus.”

This was written within a year of her death because the preacher says “she went to slumber there sometime in August last.”

Another minister, Rev. Lafleur added about Mary:

She was married to Mr. Lore, a good Catholic, and for 20 years she lived without the gospel, without being allowed to read it, and also without confidence in the religious practices she had to perform. It was a most miserable life to her, so much so that those who knew her well would say that the tears she had shed would be sufficient to turn a mill.

After 20 years of such a life, and after the death of her old parents [1819 and 1824], Mrs. Lore returned to her previous book again, and when she met our missionaries, she had been reading it for 28 years [1807 or 1808], in the midst of a continual spiritual struggle. She saw the truth but dimly and surrounded as she was, she found no one to whom she could open her mind and who could understand her. She was often heard to say to her children: “I shall have a most fearful death, for I know that I have been induced to practice what is not the truth: the truth is here, pointing to her Bible, and I have not followed it.” She had such a high regard for the Bible that going one to Champlain Village, procured from Judge Moore a copy of the Holy Scriptures for every one of her children.

When she heard of this strange school teacher, who read the Holy Scriptures to the children in the school at Grande Ligne, and in houses around, she hastened to see him. After a few moments of conversation, she exclaimed: “The Lord has heard my prayers. He has not despised my tears. This is God’s servant. I know it. This is the man of God whom I had asked of Him these many years.” She very soon found sweet peace in believing – a peace that never was disturbed during the eight months that she lived in this world after her conversion.

We learn several things from this entry, although I have to wonder if some of this information was exaggerated.

If Mary was truly that chronically miserable, did she suffer from a mental health condition, perhaps clinical depression? Her euphoric death might suggest drastic mood swings that might be classified today as bi-polar disease.

Part of what makes me wonder is what I know of her descendant generations. Her son, Anthony Lore, disappeared. He may have drowned or been murdered – at least that’s the story. At least one of Anthony’s children suffered from mental health issues that would probably be quite treatable today. His son spent time institutionalized, as did two of Anthony’s granddaughters who were sisters.

I truly hope Mary was not as miserable as described for what seems to encompass her entire adult life. I hope the missionaries were speaking in hyperbole in order to convert and convince others.

Mary referenced a great disappointment before they moved back to Canada, then seemed unhappy from the time they arrived until 8 months before her death 47 years later. That sounds absolutely horrible.

I wonder who prevented Mary from reading the Bible, if she was actually “prevented” from reading the Bible. Was it hidden someplace? I wonder at this, given that she was eventually given a French Bible that no one prevented her from reading. Was the real issue that her English had been forgotten over time?

Was this incident exaggerated by the missionaries? The story about Mary being forbidden and prevented from reading her Bible would have engendered outrage and sympathy.

In a different excerpt, I was given to understand that her son Alexis was in the missionary school class, but given that Alexis was born in 1798, unless adults were being taught, which is entirely possible, Alexis was about 37 or 38 tears old when this occurred. It’s also very possible that Alexis was learning-impaired.

We have Mary’s death date in August of 1836, so we know that her “conversion,” such as it is, occurred about December of 1835.

Christmas that year, her last one on earth, must have been very interesting – and probably very strained.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Mrs. Lore became a great help to Mr. Roussy. Her heart and house were open at all times. She gave him the use of her horse and cariole for his missionary tours, and sent her son to conduct him over roads with which he was not acquainted; always waiting and watching for their arrival at whatever hour of the night.

Was this son, Alexis who probably lived with Mary?

The next quotes are from Missionary Roussy in Canadian Baptist Women:

The baptism of our first four Canadians, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the following day made a deep impression upon the rest of our Canadians. Mary Leveque and one of her aunts, the wife of Honore Lore were baptized which was made a great blessing to them.

Religion is the great concern, from the youngest to the oldest. These things have produced very contrary effects; some seek for and read the word of truth, whilst others insult and threaten us, and do us every kind of injury to an extent never before attempted.

Rev. Lafleur continues:

“She was seen to come on foot to the meetings held at Grande Ligne to hear the preaching of the Holy Word. At the time of her departure drew near, her Roman Catholic neighbors, accustomed to see infidels repent and return at the last hour in submission to the Church, they expected that she would also at last submit and accept the offices of the Priest. In a glowing heart she bore her affectionate testimony of the Savior as the All Sufficient One at the hour of death. The whole family, composed of eight children and many grandchildren, after her example, left the Church of Rome to embrace the Gospel.

This excerpt is interesting because it says she had eight children, but that’s incorrect. This clearly refers to the eight children they knew of at the time of her death. She had nine living children when she died, and had born fifteen in total – that we know of. Furthermore, they did not all leave the Catholic church, or if they did, one returned.

Mary had several more children who had died, including one recently, in 1835, but the point of this commentary was to emphasize the conversions.

I determined Mary’s children’s religion based on several pieces of evidence. The 1851, 1861 and 1871 census, plus the burial locations of her children who died after her death.

Six of Mary’s children were buried in the Baptist Grande Ligne cemetery or otherwise had interactions with the church there:

  • Elizabeth
  • Alexis
  • Benoni
  • Honore
  • Rene
  • Celeste

Marie Josephte was probably also buried there given that she lived with Rene and Alexis.

Two of Mary’s adult children were buried in Catholic cemeteries, which generally means they were Catholics in good standing at the time of their death:

  • Joseph
  • Marguerite

Of course, all of Mary’s children who died before her death were buried in the Catholic cemetery.

Two children moved away:

  • Anthony Lore – not Catholic, burial, if any, unknown, reportedly drowned in a river·
  • Celeste – Moved to and died in Hebron, New York, probably not Catholic given that her child was married at the church in Grande Ligne

Mary’s Final Illnesss

Roussy reports that in her final illness, a great number of people visited Mary. I get the distinct impression that most of them had an agenda. And the Baptists, not wanting to miss an opportunity, even if it was at the side of a dying woman’s bed, utilized the opportunity to evangelize to all her visitors.

Shortly, we will see that perhaps Mary’s family wasn’t as quick to leave the Catholic church as Roussy stated, or maybe there was something else afoot.

Something was very definitely wrong. Information seems to contradict each other.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

On being fatally ill, Madame Feller and Mr. Roussy attended her constantly, and were made glad by the continual testimony she bore to the saving grace of Christ, and her unswerving opposition to Romanism and to the offices of the priests when urged upon her by a neighbor.

As her sufferings became excessive her anxiety to depart and be with Christ increased, and often she asked that her pulse might be examined and she informed if the moment of release were not near. At length her suffering abated; the end was at hand, and her countenance was radiant with peace and joy.

A great number visited her during her sickness, and the missionaries were by no means neglectful of the opportunity for talking Christ to them.

She desired to see all of her relatives before her death, but many of them refused to visit her, claiming that she had dishonored her family by changing her religion, and accusing her of having brought on her death by fatiguing journeys to Grande Ligne to attend meetings there. Her home was about two leagues [six miles] from the place of meeting, and when the horses were needed for something else she walked, never failing to go. In reply to expression of surprise that one of her age should be able to walk so far, especially as she had not shown the ability previously, she said, “I serve so good a Master this year; He increases my strength.”

So, a great many people visited her, but her relatives did not? This is contradicted in further writings stating that her children were at her bedside. However, the missionaries also claim that the reason that Henrietta Fuller and Roussey were attending Mary, is because her family would or could not.

Canadian Baptist Women:

Roussy wrote about Mary’s deathbed testimony in a letter for the Christian Watchman and was unusually detailed, perhaps because Mary was an “ordinary woman” in extraordinary circumstances – just when the Baptists needed an example in Canada.

It was on the night between the 5th and 6th instant that our sister Lore was seized with a violent inflammation of the intestines. We were apprised of it early in the morning and immediately Mrs. Feller and myself proceeded to her house, when she received us with joy. From this moment, Mrs. Feller did not leave her night or day, for none of her own family was able to give her the numerous attentions requisite during her severe illness.

She was so thankful to God and blessed him that he had sent Mrs. Feller such a distance to do her so much kindness; she was so humble that she thought herself unworthy of all the tender cares with which she was surrounded, and the love of God and the brethren which she experienced.

From the beginning of her sickness our blessed sister manifested the most true and solid piety which the heart could display. She foresaw that she would not get better, and therefore was occupied only with her latter end. All the things of earth were viewed as nothing with her; her treasure and her heart were on high. She showed no impatience in her pains, though they were extremely sharp, but blessed the Lord that he spared her from more excessive pains. “It is on account of my sins – it is on account of my sins,” she said, “that I am suffering so much. I deserved to suffer a great deal more, even everlasting condemnation, but Jesus has delivered me from it. He has pardoned all my sins, although they are very numerous.”

The night of Monday which was the last of her life, her children, Mrs. Feller and I were all together, near her, in prayer and conversation about our heavenly citizenship.

Note here that he states that her children are present.

Just then, at 2 o’clock in the morning, came in one of her neighbors, a zealous Catholic, who, after some compliments, asked her if she would not call the Priest, adding that he was ready and he would go and bring him.

Our sister said “No!” that she did not want him.

He asked, “Will you not die in the Roman Catholic and Apostolic church?”

“No,” said she, “because I belong to the church of Jesus Christ.”

He asked if the Romish church was not the church of Christ.

“O no,” she answered, “because in everything – everything – it is contrary to the gospel.”

“But,” answered her neighbor, “you know that the Catholic is the oldest religion.”

“Yes,” she answered, “it is an old religion; it is that which the Pharisees possessed at the time of Jesus Christ was on this earth.”

“But,” he said, “you were always of the Roman Catholic religion; will you leave it now?”

She said, “I have left it this long time, ever since I have read the gospel. I cannot follow it. It is not the religion of Jesus Christ.”

It would be too long to inform you of all the conversation of this man, which was full of impiety. He tried all possible means to draw from our dear dying sister the permission to go and fetch a priest. But all his efforts were of no avail. She continually answered in the negative, with most remarkable firmness, calmness and wisdom. At length, finding he was only fatiguing her, and being myself likewise fatigued with the ungodly language and the torrent of words of this Papist, I said to him that since he had delivered his message, and now knew the sentiments of Mrs. Lore, I must beg of him not to trouble her any further. He then answered me in a very passionate manner, and a young man, a nephew of Mrs. Lore who was a witness of what passed encouraged by the example given by this church-warden, likewise flew into a passion against me and went off, calling false prophet etc.

It’s interesting to note that in one place, he mentions that her family could not minister to her needs, yet in his description, they were present. Furthermore, it appears that both her newly-converted Baptist family members, and Catholic ones were both present, given the final comment about her nephew.

Perhaps the fact that the Baptist missionaries took advantage of a captive audience and continued their attempts to recruit converts among her family members at the side of her literal deathbed had something to do with why some of her family members might not have been present.

I can certainly see that there would definitely have been two sides to this story, two perspectives, but we only have a direct record of one.

Back to Roussy’s letter:

Alexis Lore and his brother-in-law Leveque put an end to the Roman Catholic’s mission by speaking to him very faithfully of the truth which is in Christ. He, as he hated it, did not receive it, but went away quite in a state of irritation, on account of the bad success of his attempt.

We were all made glad by the good testimony our sister had just given to the truth. Her children were all strengthened, and we gave thanks to the Lord that he had given her strength sufficient; to go through such a scene. She was extremely weak and suffered excessively. Her desire to depart increased, not so much that she might be delivered from her pains, as that she might be present with the Lord, whom she unceasingly called upon.

She often requested Mrs. Feller or myself to feel her pulse, that we might tell her if the moment of her departure was at hand. She had hoped not to begin another day upon earth; and when she saw the sun appear, she said “O! How long I am in departing.”

A few hours before her death, her sufferings abated sensibly. She scarcely spoke to us, but was continually in prayer and was often heard to repeat, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit, receive me into thy glory.” The expression of her countenance became completely changed, and quiet radiant; serenity, peace, joy and something heavenly were visible on it.

We have the pleasant hope that this sickness, this death, has not been unto death, but for the glory of God. During her sickness, our sister was visited by a great number of persons to whom this solemn moment gave us an opportunity of declaring with all seriousness the whole counsel of God. Perhaps this incorruptible seed will one day bring forth fruit in the salvation of many.

Our dear sister had desired to see all her relations before her death, but only a few visited her. Others refused to come because she would not send for a priest. They all said she had dishonored her family by changing her religion and they overwhelmed her with reproaches and contempt.

They accused her of having killed herself by her frequent journeys to the Grand Ligne, and could not forgive her with the zeal with which she followed the meeting, for she never missed a single one notwithstanding the distance of two leagues that there was between her own house and that of Leveque, she sometimes traveled it on foot, when her horses were needed for something else. When surprise was expressed that at her age, she could support so long a journey, which she had not been able to do previously, she answered, “I serve so good a Master this year, he increases my strength.”

Mary’s Funeral

Canadian Baptist Women:

On Thursday, the 11th instant, the mortal remains of our sister Lore were brought to the English burial ground at St. John’s. None of her relations, and no Canadian whatever, would accompany her to her last dwelling; to such a length did the spirit of ill-will go. She was, however, honorably interred. Several persons among the most esteemed in the neighborhood and friends of the gospel assisted, and as we passed the house of an old Canadian, who I had several times visited, we had the joy to see him join the procession.

A gentleman who had gone on before us on horseback, unknown to me, had the bell tolled as is usual for a funeral.

A pretty considerable number of persons were in the churchyard, among whom were several Canadians. I prayed, read a portion of the Bible, and addressed a few remarks to those who were present. The greatest tranquility prevailed, which we had not dared to hope for – as the Catholic population informed of the event were in a rage and passion, that made us fear there would be an uproar.

Our sister Lore had often been told that since she had abandoned her religion, she should be deprived of the honor of internment and buried in the fields, which is in the opinion of the Canadians a great disgrace and ignominy – for in general they are at more trouble to procure, through the favor of the priest, a place for their body in consecrated ground, than to obtain a part in the only good place that can receive their immortal soul.

So, they hoped their threats would be fulfilled and that the young Lores would be compelled to bury the remains of their glorified mother in some corner of her farm. But those who, with impatient delight, were looking forward to this kind of triumph, were as surprised as chagrined when they saw a burial ground opened for her whom they despised only on account of her religion, for in general she was beloved and respected by all that knew her, who, with one voice, gave testimony that she had been the nurse of the sick, the comforter of the afflicted and the friend of the poor, with whom she always shared what God had given her; and that she had been a counselor and mother to all. With one thing only was she reproached – that she had left her religion.

Marie died on August 9th, 1836 and was buried on the 11th. It feels odd to see English in her death record, but she had converted to the Baptist faith, and those records were indeed in English.

On this eleventh day of August Eighteen hundred and thirty-six the body of Marie Lore, widow, of l’Acadie, a converted Catholic, who died on the preceding ninth was interred in presence of the subscribing witnesses by me, Louis Roussy, M. James Beddy, James Harrison

While this doesn’t tell us Mary’s cause of death, Roussy’s description suggests that it was probably either Dysentery or Typhoid Fever.

That poor woman.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Her body was borne to St. Johns and admitted to honorable sepulture in the English burial ground. None of her relatives and no Canadian in her neighborhood would accompany it.

However, several respectable people in St. Johns assisted; an old Canadian on the way joined the procession, and a gentleman rode in advance and caused the bell to be tolled, which was very unusual for a funeral.

Order prevailed during the ceremonies, though, in view of the rage among the Catholics, a disturbance was feared. The deceased had been told that if she forsook the faith, Romanism, she would be refused honorable interment and would be buried in disgrace, in the field. But the enemies were utterly confounded by the outcome. Her respectable burial, as also her triumphant death and eminently good life bore strongly against Romanism and were influential for the almost friendless cause of Protestantism.

Mrs. Lore had been a nurse to the sick, a comforter of the afflicted, a friend to the poor, a counsellor and mother to all. Above all, she maintained her faith in the Book; she read it, and it elevated her life and strengthened her to abandon popery and to secure deliverance from its power for her children, her son-in-law and her daughters-in-law, who joined her in receiving the word of God.

Hers was the first death that occurred in the little company of disciples, “scattered and peeled” and without a certain dwelling-place. It was one of those peculiar “providences” that contribute to the furtherance of the Gospel. The community were awakened, and reasonable views developed in the minds of some who without this occurrence would have remained dormant if not on the wrong side. Then there was the victory of one soul over spiritual despotism and over the grave the gaining, likewise, of honorable sepulture.

I’m still dumbstruck that NONE of her children attended her burial. I wish I knew the rest of this story, because you know there’s more. We know positively that some members of her family were already Baptists, according to this account.

Mary’s Grave

In 2009, cousin Paul Drainville wrote:

The graves I believe are lost…as I emailed a few years back an individual familiar with the Feller Museum…He told me the locations of the graves are lost and the home has fallen into disrepair and might be torn down…He sent a photo of the home, which if I figure out how to attach I will.

At this time, we thought that Marie was buried at the Grande Ligne Mission, but she wasn’t.

This map shows four locations of interest.

  • At the bottom is the mission at Grande Ligne. This is where Mary’s daughter Elizabeth, and son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Leveque lived who opened their home to the missionaries for a school. They had clearly converted before Mary died.
  • At top left, the Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie Catholic church and cemetery where all of Marie’s children were baptized, and where her husband and children who died before her death are buried.
  • At right, Vieux cimetiere St. James is the English graveyard where Mary was taken by the missionaries to be buried.
  • About halfway between the English cemetery, and Ste. Marguerite, we find L’Acadie. It’s believed that this area is where Mary’s farm was located. It may well have been close to or on the Grand Ligne road. I’m hopeful to learn more from the translation of Honore’s inventory documents. I wonder if there were estate documents after Mary died.

If we are to presume that Mary’s body was prepared for burial at home and the procession moved from someplace in L’Acadie to the church in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the path with the horseman and the bell-ringer would have looked something like this. Of course, they wouldn’t have needed to be concerned about one-way streets and traffic back then. They were, however, worreid about being attacked given the brewing Rebellion combined with the very angry Catholic community.

The church, within sight of the river, was constructed in 1816, so the churchyard would have had some burials, but probably not many.

The cemetery today seems almost empty, but that’s probably because so many graves are unmarked. There are a few earlier burials recorded and even fewer have stones. While the missionaries were concerned about Mary’s burial, specifically that she not be buried in a Catholic cemetery, or on her farm, no one seemed concerned about either recording or marking her grave for posterity. It seems like they were more concerned about the spectacle and statement of her funeral procession and burial, as a “win.”

The St.-John-sur-Richelieu website at one time provided information, translated from French, about the St James church and cemetery behind the church.

St James Church built in 1816 along the garrison graveyard of Fort St. John which extends behind the church.

This cemetery is of special interest for French Protestants. It is here that Mary Lafaille, better known as Mrs. Lore (the Lord family of Quebec), was buried. Mary was the daughter of François Lafaille and Marguerite. The family lived in the Boston area where they had several children who were probably raised in the Protestant religion.

The family emigrated in the l’Acadie area a little before the Mary married Honoré Lord on 10 August 1789; she was twenty-one years old at the time. Three other of her sisters also married to Catholics. The couple Lafaille-Lord had six children. It is only at the end of her life that Mrs. Lord (Lore) met the evangelist Louis Roussy who made her regain the Bible of her youth and reconverted her in 1836.

She invited the missionary to get in touch with her daughter Elizabeth, married to Jean-Baptiste Lévêque, living in Grande-Ligne who made his home available to the evangelists for prayer and preaching meetings. Sometime after, other members of the Lord family converted to Protestantism.

Mrs. Lore was a key player in the early conversions. At her death in 1841, she fell asleep in the Lord strong of her faith despite the last-minute attempts of a neighbor to bring her in “the right path.” There was no question to bury her in a Catholic cemetery and the St James Anglican community welcomed her along; a large crowd gathered for this first burial a French Protestant. Unfortunately for us, the headstones suffered the ravages of time and vandals, and it has not been possible to trace the exact place of her burial because there is no historical record of the burials.

This confirms that the is no cemetery map. Their death date for Mary is five years late and so is the count of her children, but at least we know she’s there, someplace. It does sadden me that she is buried alone, without family nearby.

Birth of the Grande Ligne Mission and Mary’s Family

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

After Mary’s death, the missionaries were still unsettled. Their experience in this respect was like that of pioneers in the missionary cause generally. The country was before them, but with opposition to the work they proposed to do for the souls of the inhabitants. Fixing a location was but to invite persecution. A permanent home was hardly to be hoped for, but there was permanent work for their hands, and with renewed resolution they looked for another center of operations. Mr. Roussy, undaunted by his dismissal from the school at L’Acadie, had preached the Gospel throughout the adjacent regions. An indication of providential favor was found in the opening of a private house for meeting, as stated: the home of Mr. Leveque, son-in-law of Madame Lore, whose abandonment of Romanism has been noted.

This house was situated on what came to be known as The Grande Ligne. A grande ligne is simply a division line between districts, or concessions of government land, usually a straight line, extending several miles. It becomes a road, along which homes are established; and the one mentioned became so prominent as a mission center that the place assumed the name given. Thither the thoughts of the missionaries turned.

It was felt by them that it would be necessary to stand away from the cities and begin the mission among a more quiet population. And such an opportunity was presented and embraced; the friendships of some of the Canadians there giving assurance that peace might prevail and the missionaries not be molested.

Scarcely four months had been spent in St. Johns, and less than one year in Canada, and in this brief time they had been persecuted and compelled to flee from two cities and seek a home in the open country. The assailants, not satisfied with abusing human beings, vented their wickedness upon Mr. Roussy’s horse, and tried to kill him; but the blows which at first seemed fatal proved to be only deep flesh wounds that after some weeks, it was hoped, would be healed.

Yielding to the impression that Grande Ligne was the place God had purposed for her, Madame Feller removed thither in September 1836. Some of the inhabitants had desired her to settle among them, feeling the need of instruction; parents as well as children. But there was no school-house, nor a lot on which one might be built at that time. Meetings had been held in Mr. Leveque’s house, a poor cabin. Two small rooms in the garret, though unfinished, were available for her use; and when ready she entered them, with joy and thanksgiving, feeling that her way and her task were alike ordered of the Lord, and that expected trials would be for her good and His glory.

The beginning was small. The rooms were about twelve feet square, each. One of them was her chamber, the other answered the purposes of parlor, kitchen and schoolroom. In such narrow circumstances was commenced the conquest of the land to a pure Christianity – the attic of a log house for a fort and an unformed company of children of which to make an army, and with the ignorant and hostile Canaanite in the land.

With a steady purpose and a firm resolve she entered upon a life campaign. “From nine in the morning till noon, and from two till five in the afternoon she instructed children, upwards of twenty being generally present. At six in the evening there was a meeting for adults, which partook of the character of a school and a Bible class. At that meeting, after the elementary part of the business had been dispatched, she read and explained portions of the Scripture and answered innumerable questions respecting the truths of the Gospel. So deeply interested were those who attended that the exercises were not infrequently prolonged until midnight.”

An increase of knowledge so greatly desirable was not the only consideration with either teacher or pupil. Enlightenment was not the end, but the means; and great was the gratification attending the soul’s submission to Jesus Christ, the highest aim in all efforts. “The work prospers at Grande Ligne,” wrote Madame Feller; “we have there about twenty Protestants, who have entirely abandoned Popery, and we are happy to inform you that six of them give satisfactory proof that they are Christians.”

There seems to have been an unspoken longing in the minds of some for such a blessing as the Gospel brings. The Canadians were not an entire exception in the human family, to which “The Desire of all Nations ” was to be a welcome guest. One of the very first converts said to Madame Feller: “Before I saw you, I had asked God to send some one to instruct us and our children. I did not mention it to anybody, because I did not see how it could be done. But I continued to pray, and now you have come.”

Mr. Leveque, whose house was being used, could not read, though forty-two years of age. He also cherished a longing for Scripture truth, saying, “I take the Bible I hold it in my hand. I look at it, I open it would that I could read it! I cannot tell you my distress; I am heartbroken. I would ask the Lord to work a miracle for me, so that I might be able to read; but He will do it in giving me understanding. Oh, if I could once read it to those who are ignorant! It is not for myself only; I would go and read the word of God to those who know it not.”

Another man, about sixty years of age, of dreadful temper and an enemy of the Leveques and of the Gospel, was found to be in a subdued state of mind, and willing to permit his large number of children to learn to read. Considering himself too old to learn, he would frequently attend the school and listen to the readings of the Bible. Midnight often surprised the school while engaged in reading, explanation, and prayer. The wife of this man reported that he was sometimes so excited after the evening conferences that he could not sleep, but talked all night about the things he had heard.

Such were the indications of the divine pleasure. On the other hand there were displays of the adversary’s displeasure. Children were withdrawn from the school; priests visited homes that had received little or no attention previously, threatened and tried to turn away those favorably disposed to the Mission. And yet there was a change to a favorable attitude toward the Bible on the part of one of the opposing priests, showing the divine hand, and he gave permission to the family last named to have the children educated.

That husband and father, regardless of ridicule, took the Bible under his arm, and going from house to house, sought out persons to read to him its precious contents. He in turn told them what he had learned from the holy book. And joy, such as angels experience, filled the souls of the workers on the conversion of Benoni Lore, who gradually had passed through a stage of distressful conviction and then fully and joyfully entered the new life. He then became one of the most eager learners in the school.

Mr. Roussy had quarters in a house belonging to the Lore family, in L’Acadie, and itinerated in the surrounding district. Grande Ligne was the most important of the seven or eight preaching stations he occupied, and the mutual counsel and sympathy enjoyed were doubtless much needed.

It’s unclear when these conversions occurred but given that only Elizabeth Lore and Jean-Baptiste Leveque along with Alexis Lore were the only family members reported as Baptist at Mary’s death, I’d presume the rest of these were later.

After Mary’s Death

After Mary Lore’s death, the political situation worsened, as did the Catholic/Baptist schism, if that can be imagined.  

Canadian Baptist Women:

Roussy reports that the Lore family and missionaries:

Now have neither relations nor friends and are forsaken by all those who formerly loved them. They bear it joyfully, esteeming themselves happy to be hated of all for the name of Christ.

It’s noted that the missionaries felt that, through Mary, God had given them an answer to their own prayers. Roussy writes of her, “This pious woman was a great help to me, not only her heart but also her house was open.” He refers to her as “our esteemed Sister Lore.” He refers to her elsewhere as “the first good seed of the Grande Ligne Mission.”

They viewed her as “the victory of one soul over spiritual despotism and over the grave” although Roussy also said, “We have been deeply affected by the death of this our dear sister whom we had so much reason to love.”

The missionaries subsequently used Mary’s story both to evangelize and to solicit and obtain funding. She was their shining example of how they had touched Catholic lives and been successful in their conversion efforts.

The heart-wrenching division this caused within the Lore family was still felt and reflected generations later.

Roussy discusses the problem of finding a location to teach a school, but states that Leveque has made them two little rooms in the garret of the house he lives in.

Upon quitting St. John’s I intend going to live in the house of our deceases sister where two of her sons will continue to dwell.

Obviously that’s Mary Lore, but which of her two sons are residing there? Clearly Alexis is one, but who is the other son? Did Rene or Benoni inherit the family home? The only other possibility is Mary’s son, Honore.

The Beginnings of the Grande Ligne Mission

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:


A small school-house was built, the first structure to indicate progress; the friends at Montreal also showing a lively, practical interest in its erection.

The Leveque family, which had kindly granted the garret of the cabin for Madame Feller’s use, now yielded to her the entire dwelling, and temporarily domiciled in the new school-house.

Accommodations thus were greatly enlarged. Besides the two upper rooms, each twelve feet square, she could command also the entire lower part, twelve by twenty-four, for school, meetings, and household purposes. Behold the mansion!

It was reported that by the time the 1837 rebellion occurred, the mission had amassed 16 converts.

In February 1837, the Bishop of Montreal received an even more alarming report from the Parish Priest – 11 households had been converted for a total of 53 people. Apparently, the seed had sprouted.

In an 1893 Sketch of the Grande Ligne Mission by it’s president, he tells us that:

Henrietta Feller found her way to a little country place called Grande Ligne, where in a log house she commenced her word. In an upper room, partitioned with rough boards, she lived and toiled. She soon succeeded in gathering around her a few children to whom she taught reading and writing, at the same time carefully instructing them in the blessed truths of the gospel.

After school hours, she spent her time visiting the houses of these children and any house to which she could find access in Grande Ligne to tell the story of the cross and give general instructions to the poor Canadian women, who were, like their husbands in a deplorable state of ignorance and superstition. Hardly one person in 10 could read or write. No wonder this province is called Darkest Canada.

In 1837, after two months exile, owing to the Canadian Rebellion, the first French Protestant Church ever founded in Canada was organized at Grande Ligne with 7 members to whom 9 others were added a few months later.

I sure wish we had the names of those seven people. I’d wager that at least some of them were her family members, if not all.

Ironically, not one word in this 1893 book is about Mary or any member of the Lore or Leveque families, without whom, the mission would not have existed. The person who owned that founding “log house” was indeed none other than Mary Lore’s daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Leveque.

The Rebellion

In 1837, the political situation became ever more volatile, fueled by politics and the divisive rhetoric pitting Catholics and Protestants against one another, both in the government and the churches.

The first battle of the Patriot Rebellion took place at St. Eustace, near Montreal on December 14, 1837.

The churches were involved with the French patriots taking refuge in the Catholic churches. St. Eustace and Saint-Benoit were burned that December, along with the houses of the opposing rebellion’s leaders in four additional villages. English “rebels” attempted to make it to the Canada/US border, but many were taken prisoner.

The countryside was terrified, angry, and in an uproar.

Eustace was only about 50 miles away from L’Acadie.

The closest escape route to the border would take the rebels directly down the Richelieu River, terrifying the population and inflaming the anti-Baptist sentiment.

All clergy, be they Protestant or Catholic, probably used this opportunity to proselytize and encourage their congregations to assure their piety and salvation…just in case.

Catholic families would have been very angry at the English, meaning the missionaries, for bringing this battle and from their perspective, needless upheaval upon them.

Mary had been the Catholic icon for the Baptists, and now the Baptists were iconic representatives of the English.

Given the history within the L’Acadie community surrounding Mary’s conversion and death, all things considered, it’s no surprise that the reaction was so volatile and heated.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

A letter from Henriette Fuller (above):

The missionaries left Grande Ligne for NY it became so dangerous in November 1837.

The movements of the rebels always took place in the night. They met in companies of one hundred, two hundred, and sometimes more. They were all masked and furnished with instruments of every kind imaginable to get up a charivari. They went from house to house, mingling with their infernal music shouts and imprecations still more infernal. Those who did not come out immediately and join them were pelted with stones and threatened with fire. Some houses were entirely destroyed with their contents. Almost all of the inhabitants of Grande Ligne being patriots (as the rebels called themselves), they became so violent that there were no bounds to their disorderliness. Some friends came to warn us that we were in danger, and that we ought to remove as quickly as possible, and absent ourselves for some time.

On Monday morning brother Roussy set off for Champlain, to ascertain whether accommodations could be obtained there, should God show us that it was our duty to leave. He had not been gone an hour when I learned that the patriots were determined to kill him; they spoke of it quite openly and expressed themselves in the most violent manner. I passed a sad day. It appeared very evident that it was our duty to go away; but to give up my Canadians was to give up my life. I was warned that the patriots were preparing to come to my house that night, and that their intentions were of the worst kind. How I blessed God that brother Roussy was absent! I spent the evening in reading and prayer, with some of my dear Canadians, encouraging myself in God and expecting that He would guide me, for I knew not what I ought to do. Oh, how true it is that we must look to Jesus if we would not lose courage! I had full experience of it that night, for when the mob came to the house, I felt no fear. Brave brother Leveque went out of his house to ask them what they wanted. They told him, and in an imperious manner, that he must immediately discontinue the scandal of the new religion which he had permitted in his house, adding that they would compel us to quit the country.

Mr. Leveque asked them who gave them the power to act in that way. They replied that they assumed the power, and that they would show us that they were masters. I was obliged to go and speak to them at the door and was able to do it calmly. They commanded brother Roussy and me to go away, and said that if we did not go quickly, they would return and force us; that we had come to trouble the country with a new religion, and that they would not suffer any persons to live in that place who did not profess their own excellent religion and were not good patriots like themselves.

They uttered many blasphemies and threats and left me to carry on their outrages at the houses of the members of our little church. They introduced themselves by the charivari and throwing stones at the windows. They ordered all who had renounced popery to abandon their new religion, and return to the mass, and told them that if they would not do it they must quit the country, or expect to be burned out. See how clearly the path was marked for us; for all determined rather to give up everything than to go back. Then we prepared for our departure, trusting that the merciful God would find a refuge for His poor, persecuted church.

As early as 1838 she [Fuller] seems to have gained a correct view of their general condition and wrote: “The Canadians are devoted to unchanged routine. They have no idea of doing anything differently from their grandfathers. They cultivate and crop only one half of their farms every year, leaving the other half to their cattle; and the consequence is that, though a man may possess a hundred arpents (an arpent being three-fourths of an English acre), he is very probably without bread for one half of the year. We have persuaded our people this year to plough and sow all their land, the meadows only excepted, which produce abundant crops of hay. This is an innovation and is regarded as a remarkable event.”

It’s worth noting here that “fire” is one of the oral stories passed down in the Antoine Lore family who carried the anti-Catholic stories, but where the fire occurred, or under what circumstances, was not specified.


Returning to Henrietta Feller’s letter:

Glancing at authentic documents for a brief survey of this grand enterprise, it is learned that for the first year (1835-6) the main result of their flight from one hostile locality to another was the finding, finally, a place to rest the foot. A convert had been gained, raised up for their relief in pointing them to an “upper room ” (the log hut), and then taken to her mansion in the skies before the year closed. It was her reward here that she, Mrs. Lore, had a proper Christian burial, and by the loving hands of the missionaries.

The second year (1836-7) was signaled by two great events. One, the organization of a church of seven members, increased to sixteen before the year closed, which, by the grace of God, continues to this day; the second, the persecution and exile already described. Thus, through joy and sorrow in immediate succession, were they tempered for their life further on missionaries and converts together.

From Canadian Baptist Women:

After Mary’s death in 1836, the Grande Ligne Mission continued to share important ties to both the Champlain area and Mary’s family. The Grande Ligne Mission and Mary’s family became targets for the 1837 lootings, fires and charivaris during the Rebellion. The missionaries and mission families, including Mary’s, abandoned their homes and fled for refuge to the safety of Champlain. Additionally, it was reported that the Grande Ligne Mission received yearly financial support from the associations in Champlain that had been founded by Pliny Moore.

Grande Ligne Mission

Where is the Grande Ligne Mission today?

Fortunately, the little cabin owned by Elizabeth Lore and Jean-Baptiste Levique was not torn down and has been restored as a historic site.

Mary was assuredly here many times, both to visit her daughter, then to visit the mission. Her spirit probably still visits faithfully. Eventually, this humble cabin site was the foundation of Feller College, but that was still decades in the future.

Cousin Ed tells us that the conversion experiences, difficulties with the Catholic population at the time, etc., had been a vague bit of family lore within the Lore family for many years. “It intrigued me enough to spend a significant amount of time and effort researching. It was back in 1992 that I finally made the information break-through and was able to visit Jean-Baptiste Leveque’s cabin in Canada where Madame Feller started her work, now the Henriette Feller Museum.”

Fortunately, today the little cabin has been preserved and restored, complete with signage. I hope to one day tour this cabin, sit on those benches, and ponder the lives of Mary and her family.

In the 1851 census, Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth Lord, was living in a large household, probably the Grande Ligne mission, with Madam Feller, age 52, and her religion is listed as Baptist, but then Baptist is marked through as with many of Elizabeth’s siblings.

Perhaps wishful thinking on the part of the census taker, or maybe for their safety?

Part of the Roussy memorial today, the first church was the mission, but this church was built in 1880. The original steps probably remain. Although Mary clearly would not have visited this church, Alexis, Benoni, and Honore did not die until in the 1880s. I hope they remembered the sacrifices of their mother here.

This postcard shows the church sometime between 1898 and 1917.

Many of Mary’s grandchildren and descendants would have worshipped here, and some may still.

The cemetery, located to the rear of the properties is part of the “complex” that at one time included the college, boarding school, church, original mission, presbytery, and other buildings.

Five of Mary’s children, plus probably Marie Josephte, are buried here:

  • Elizabeth
  • Alexis
  • Benoni
  • Honore
  • Rene

Ironic that there was concern about Mary being buried in some field in the corner of her farm. Although not her farm, I’d bet she’s love to be buried here where her children toiled and tilled the soil. Indeed, in the corner of her daughter and son-in-law’s farm field, with them and her family. Many Lore/Lord family members were still being buried here into the 1990s.

Mary’s DNA waters the soil of Grande Ligne through her children and descendants.

You can read more about the Mission, here and here.

What About Mary, the Person?

I come away from all of this saddened. I feel like Mary, at a time when she was aging and vulnerable, became somewhat of a pawn, revered more for what she represented to both the Catholics and Baptists than for Mary herself. I feel like she was viewed as a prize, and whatever happened to her and her family relationships was either ignored as irrelevant or collateral damage. I hope she didn’t blame herself for what happened to her family as a result of “her sins.” Of course, according to both religious philosophies – there would have been no “damage” if people had simply corrected their way of thinking.

Only a few words are spent on the kind of person Mary was. Everything else was focused on using Mary to recruit others.

“She had been the nurse of the sick, the comforter of the afflicted and the friend of the poor, which whom she always shared what God had given her; and that she had been a counselor and mother to all.”

That’s it. Everything else is about Mary’s religious agonies or, in the end, ecstasies as death approached. They never even bothered to acknowledge her lifelong role as mother and grandmother by naming her children. Furthermore, the missionaries didn’t even record the number of her children accurately. I feel like they were primarily interested in what Mary could do for them, not what happened to Mary or her family. Even during her death watch – they used her as an opportunity to evangelize.

I’m trying very hard to not view the records and acts of yesteryear from a contemporary perspective, but I’m struggling. My heart aches for Mary being without her family in the last days and hours of her life.

My heart aches for her family members, being deprived of being with their mother in her last hours, and at her funeral.

From the vantage of time and distance, I find it very difficult to be happy about the situation, with Mary seemingly exploited by both sides, to the point where her family was driven away. I’m assuming the reports were correct that none of her children or family members walked with her funeral procession and attended her burial.

I could understand, perhaps, why her Catholic family did not attend, but not even her Baptist family members? Where were Elizabeth and Jean-Baptiste Leveque, and family? What about Alexis? And maybe even some of her family members who had not converted yet but had softened somewhat? There’s mention of another daughter-in-law being converted. She had adult grandchildren who surely loved her. Where were they?

And poor confused Marie Josephte. OMG my heart aches for her.

Where were all the people Mary had loved unconditionally for her and their entire lives?

There seems to be an untold story here. More than meets the eye.

Everyone had somehow been alienated by this battle, it appears, except for the Baptist missionaries themselves. Were they sentries instead of guardians? I guess they “won” “their” battle and Mary’s body and funeral procession through the community were their trophy.

Perhaps Mary’s family members were all just disgusted to death with the behavior of all external parties and wanted nothing more to do with any of it. It seems they had been robbed of their mother and grandmother – first by a lifelong battle with Mary’s own grief and agony surrounding religion, then a battle between religions with Mary as the symbolic trophy, and then by death itself. Who wouldn’t be utterly exhausted?

They had also experienced the same grief experiences that Mary had – their siblings died, their grandparents died and their father died just before the missionaries arrived on the scene.

Within various lines of the family, vague references to terrible times remained well into the 1900s.

Mary was my mother’s grandfather’s grandmother. My great-aunt Eloise lived into the 1990s and told about riding in the buggy with her father, Curtis Lore, in the early 1900s when she was a child. Mary was his grandmother, and he never, not once breathed a word about any of this. He assuredly knew.

Curtis never met Mary, of course, as he was born 20 years after her death. Curtis had, however, disassociated himself from strong ties to any religion. That’s not to infer that he was an evil person. His wife was raised Lutheran, then was Presbyterian as an adult, and he perfunctorily attended services with her as required. His daughters attended church and Sunday School regularly. He didn’t interfere, but he certainly wasn’t more than lukewarm towards organized religion. Religious bickerings and outright war within the family had a horrible impact on his grandmother and his father, with aunts and uncles remaining estranged until their deaths.

Estrangement is living grief. Every. Single. Day. Trust me on this one.

Curtis’s father, Anthony Lore, born Antoine in 1805 to Marie/Mary and Honore Lore was in Vermont by about 1830. In 1831, he married outside the Catholic faith, so he was probably already an outcast. Maybe his mother’s obsession with religion was part of why he left, although she had not been “reconverted” yet at that time.

Anthony’s side of the family, meaning his grandchildren, carried mostly vague stories and references about how horrible Catholics were, and how dangerous. “They” were certainly not to be trusted.

I found the word “dangerous” in this context remarkable when I first heard it.

I first encountered those rumblings before I knew who Anthony’s parents were. I discounted them, or figured they were based on some sort of misinformation.  After I discovered that Anthony’s ancestors were Acadians, I found this “Catholics are evil” story rather incredulous, especially given that Acadians fought so hard and so long, undergoing such deprivation to remain Catholic. They literally sacrificed everything. Their religion was extremely important to them, and a Catholic Acadian family would never have these kinds of stories, hinted at or otherwise.

From the Acadian perspective, the English and protestants were very clearly evil for what they had done. There was truly no doubt about that.

Surely, these family stories were confused or came from a different line. Maybe from one of the non-Catholic lines – right???

Nope. As it turns out, they were based on actual facts, even though the specifics had been obscured or forgotten. This situation became even worse after Mary’s death. The Baptist Lore family who lived in Mary’s home was reportedly burned out in 1837, probably during the Rebellion when the French and English were firmly pitted against each other and the area was rocked by revolutionary upheaval.

I wonder if Antoine, then Anthony, saw his mother after she converted and before she died? He’s never mentioned anyplace in these records, but we know he was present in 1834 when Honore’s estate was divided.

These family members remained in touch, somehow, at least during the first generation and before Mary’s conversion, or Anthony would not have known to be present when his father’s estate was divided. We know Anthony was there, because he signed his name.

The situation surrounding Mary’s death and subsequent political/religious terrors endured by the family were treated pretty much as a closely guarded family secret – something that was occasionally whispered about or inferred, but the actual story was never told. There was head-shaking, tongue-clucking and long sad grimacing glances at the floor that clearly conveyed the sentiment, and that there was some horrible secret that could not be discussed – never to be revealed. And yes, people took those secrets to their graves.

I’ve tried to dig them up.

It’s possible that the family, in some way, still feared retaliation, or the division cleaved by the Catholic/Baptist feud over Mary’s body and soul was too deep and painful to navigate.

Estrangement is the willful severance of your relationship with your family. The person on the receiving end couldn’t interpret the intended message more clearly. “You’re dead to me. You don’t exist. I’ve killed you in my heart.” And this was caused by religion.

Where is God’s love in all of this?

If the Baptist letters are to be believed, Mary died in a euphoric state, but I still feel incredibly sorry for what she had to endure, and for the horribly painfully divided family she left behind. Those scars have been passed from generation to generation, while her actual legacy as a wonderful, giving, human being, regardless of her religion, has been entirely erased and forgotten.

Not anymore, Mary.

Not anymore.

I can’t do much, but I can honor Mary’s life with a virtual headstone, even if it is 187 years late, and create a memorial, here.


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[3] Jacob’s Well: A Case for Rethinking Family History by Joseph Amato

10 thoughts on “Marie LaFaille or Mary LaFay (1767-1836): The Battle for Mary’s Soul – 52 Ancestors #396

  1. Roberta: Me again
    You wrote:
    “Mary and Honore had at least 15 children, and man oh man, have they been difficult to track. I’m still not positive I have everyone accounted for.”

    Well yes – 15 recorded according to the PRDH
    For anything in Quebec before 1850, it is well worth to subscribe to the PRDH. (for $20 CDN, you get 100 hits)

    What is it? ” In 1966, the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH, Research Programme in Historical Demography) at the Université de Montréal undertook the exhaustive reconstruction of the population of Quebec from the beginnings of French colonization in the seventeenth century…The project relies basically on exhaustive gathering of data from the parish registers of old Quebec. By systematic attribution of baptism, marriage, and burial certificates to the respective individuals – a “family reconstitution” made on the basis of names and family ties – people are identified and their biographies established. PRDH’s data base, covering the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, thus contains the personal history of the Quebec ancestors of all French- Canadians.”

    A quick look shows me that you are mostly correct.

    • I have subscribed. Don’t laugh. I just haven’t tried it yet. I should have and I will tomorrow. Thank you for the explanation.

  2. “Marie Lore, widow, of l’Acadie, a CONVERTED Catholic, who died on the preceding Ninth was interred in presence of the SUBSCRIBING WITNESSES by me James Boddy”

  3. Perhaps she was no one’s trophy. Perhaps she was certain that what she came to believe after a lifetime of spiritual searching was true. Perhaps she made her choice in faith despite knowing the possible consequences. Perhaps if she had any regrets for her family she had none for herself.

  4. Perhaps her family was not present right away when Mary became seriously ill but did get there later. People who had farms also had livestock. You can’t just leave for an unknown amount of time. Crops would have been maturing in August. Rain could have ruined everything. Every family had a bunch of kids. Can they just hop in the wagon and leave for a day or a week? Start walking as soon as they were notified? How did they find out their mother was dying? The women would have prepared food to take. I choose to think the family got there as soon as they could.

    • We know that Mary lived with two of her sons and one daughter. One son never married and neither did the daughter. All of her other sons were married, so we know she lived with a family. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is whose home she walked to in Grande Ligne. Her other sons lived very close because their children were baptized in the local Catholic church. Based on the missionaries saying that Mary allowed them to use her horse and chariot, so we know the families could have been notified, and they had a couple days to get there. Daughter Marguerite lived locally too, as she is buried in the Catholic churchyard. Son Antoine and daughter Celeste did moved away. Anthony was gone by the time his mother became ill, so he probably did not know until after she died and was buried. I don’t know when Celeste moved, but given that one of her children was married in Grande Ligne, it certainly appears that she lived locally too.

  5. Pingback: Honoré Lore (1742-1818), Father of 27 & Acadian Revolutionary War Veteran – 52 Ancestors #398 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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