Last week I sat down to my computer and felt like a change. It’s not that I was bored. I just wanted to tackle a genealogy task that was completely new and fresh for me.
So, I dove into a line that years ago my sister and I decided would be the line she would work on. She worked on it extensively for a few years. Over the last several years she has not had much time for family history. In the spring she was laid up recovering from surgery. During those weeks, she was able to dig back in to this line and research. She told me she had made a few awesome discoveries here. I decided to check it out.
I went to my current end of line individual – Prudent Therien.
Prudent is my 4th great grandfather. We knew about the latter half of his life. He settled in Illinois with his wife and children. They had more children there. He lived many years in Illinois. From the census we knew he was born in Canada, as was his wife and oldest children. One of my sister’s discoveries was his marriage record.
Prudent married Adeline Perrault in Lachenaie, L’Assomption, Québec, Canada on 11 August 1846. I was really excited when I saw that she had found this certificate. I am quite familiar with French, Catholic records from Québec. I know that in this time period they list the names of the parents of the bride and groom. I opened the document thinking I was a few keystrokes away from adding another generation to my tree.
Are you sensing a ‘but…’? Because there is one.
That marriage record held a few surprises. First of all, Prudent was listed as ‘Prudent’. No last name. What now? I had never seen that before. Second, he was listed as a ‘middling boy’. It was explained to me that this likely means, “I think in this sense, he was average and was probably under the usual age of marriage. It is unusual that the marriage did not name his parents, it may be possible he was abandoned as an infant and left as an orphan but sometimes, priests did omit parents.” Third, no parents for Prudent.
I decided to look for a possible baptism record. I began in the same parish in which the marriage occurred. I used the birth information from the 1900 US Census as a guide – January 1820. I began looking in 1819, nothing there. Then I checked 1820, nothing there. I was a bit worried. I checked 1821 – finally some luck!
I found a baptism record for a child listed as ‘Prudent – Illegm’. It follows what I know of Prudent. No last name, born in January, one year different from the 1900 census. Born in the same parish in which he was married. There were no other Prudents born in the previous two years. Unfortunately the record does not list parents. It does list god-parents, godfather – Amable Dupont, godmother – Hypolite Garispy.
Now I was wondering where the last name Therien came from. Out of the air?
I still don’t know the answer to that. I know that Prudent and Adeline’s first child was a boy whom they named Prudent Terrien. He was born and died in 1847. His baptism and burial records list his parents as Prudent, again no last name, and Adeline Perrault.
Prudent and Adeline’s next child was Marie Anne Terrien. She was born in 1848. Her baptism record lists her parents just like her older brother’s, father Prudent, no last name, mother Adeline Perrault.
The third child was Louis Ludger Therrien, born and died in 1850. Louis’ baptism record is the first record in which Prudent has a last name. His name is listed as Prudent Therrien, a name he uses on the remaining documents of his life.
I am still working on this family. I have so many questions.
- Where did the last name Terrien/Therrien/Therien come from?
- Who raised Prudent?
- Who were his parents?
- Are there any records that will help me solve the mystery of his parentage or is Prudent a true BRICK WALL? That would be a serious bummer.
- Nine children have been identified for Prudent and Adeline. The 1900 and 1910 census list Adeline as the mother of 11 with 6 children living. Who are the two missing children?
- When exactly did Prudent immigrate to the US?
- When and where did he die?
- What is the history of illegitimacy in this area? Was he abandoned?
- How do I properly list Prudent in my tree? With no last name? With the last name of Therien with a note? This is new territory for me.
- Who are Prudent’s god-parents? I know their names, but why were they chosen? Who chose them?
My work with Prudent is far from over. As always, one answer leads to SEVERAL more questions. I’m glad I decided to wander over to this section of my tree. I’m really enjoying my digging.
8 thoughts on “Ancestor Story – Prudent Therien – 52 Ancestors”
Interesting case. Have you looked up what the French word Terrien means?
Être humain habitant la Terre, par opposition aux habitants supposés des autres mondes (avec une majuscule)
A human being from Earth, as opposed to an inhabitant believe to be from other worlds.
Maybe he chose the name so that future genealogists working on his brick wall wouldn’t suggest he came from another planet. 😉
I never thought to look up the meaning of the name. It was a common name in that parish so I was guessing he may have taken on the name of someone he admired, worked for, lived with or something like that. I suppose he could have chosen it for the very reason you are suggesting. 🙂
Perhaps a trip to Québec would provide some answers? 😉 That’s quite a puzzle. Do keep us posted.
That would be lovely! I wish that fit in the budget RIGHT NOW. Maybe one day. 😉
One of my favorite things about research is how there always is the next question. 🙂
Perhaps Prudent was fostered or adopted by a family with the name Terrien? It might be worth trying to see what you can find out about his godparents – perhaps they were related to his mother in some way or may have been parish officials or guardians? Are there any other parish records for that area that might cover any details relating to illegitimate children? I am not familiar with Quebec records, but over in the UK we had Bastardy Bonds and often in order to try to reduce the amount the parish had to take out of it’s pocket to provide for illegitimate babies, they would get the mothers to name the reputed father’s so they would pay towards the child. Or if there was a sort of poor house or similar that took in abandoned babies, whether there are any records for that, such as admission books? Good luck with the search – such great names and I always love a puzzle!
This situation has motivated me to learn more about the resources in Quebec. I really don’t know much about records beyond the Catholic Parish records and the Canadian Census. I’m going to have to dig and learn some more here.