Biographie Joseph-Eustache Pontbriand

Biographie Joseph-Eustache Pontbriand

Joseph-Eustache Pontbriand eldest son of Francois-Eustache Pontbriand and Felicite Vandal, was born on the 19th of October 1823 in William Henry, Lower Canada. He was baptized on the 20th at St. Pierre de Saurel, his godparents were Joseph Young (16) and Marie Esthier-Defisiau. His cemetery stone has his birthdate as February 19, 1821 however, this cannot be correct since his sister was born in September 1820.

According to his naturalization papers he immigrated at the age of fifteen from the province of Canada East. His papers were filed on the 24th of September 1856 at the age of thirty-five while residing in the town of Champlain, New York (Clinton County Aliens Admitted Book 2, 271). If Joseph-Eustache was fifteen years old when the family immigrated then they most likely came in the fall or early winter of 1838. After all a large family needed to have a place to stay. I find no indication that his family remained behind. Another possibility is that they came in a hurry after the failed rebellions of 1838. What must it have been like to be a young man approaching adulthood and have all that was familiar to you uprooted, your dreams gone. Not old enough to decide to remain behind yet old enough to be expected to help out with whatever was needed to support this family. He married at St. Joseph de Corbeau Coopersville, New York on the 4th of October 1847 to Angeline Lepine. 

The witnesses to this union were the father's of the bride and groom. Joseph and Angeline set up house in Champlain near his parents' home. The 1850 U. S. census shows that he was listed as a farmer with the value of his real estate at $125. 

The role of both mother and wife was not an easy one. This marriage saw the birth of twelve children, the first Angeline was born in 1849. The following year was Marguerite's turn and then Joseph in 1853, Marie-Rosalie in 1855, Francois in 1857, Jean-Baptiste in 1859, Julie in 1861, Maxime in 1864, Simeon was born around 1865 (the only record of him that I can find is the 1870 U. S. Census records for Altona, New York), Antoine in 1867, Julianne in 1871 and nine years later in 1880 William was born. 

According to the "Sullivan Papers" found in the Chazy Town Historian's office, Joseph first settled in Altona on the French-Settlement Road (17) around 1859. He purchased land on the 12th of December 1858 from Horace Hayford (18) of the Town of Champlain and his wife Elizabeth; for the sum of $375.00. The chosen lot would take some time to clear. It was located on the north half of the south-east quarter of lot #151 of the Dueville Patent, containing thirty-one and one-fourth acres of land (Clinton County Deeds, Vol. 32, 463). This lot was located near the OK Wood  Company and is most likely where he worked. In the 1860 census for Altona, he was listed as a day laborer, who could neither read nor write; however, by 1870 we find him running his own farm.

Angeline was born on July 25, 1830 St-Paul-de-Lavaltrie, Lower Canada, the daughter of Antoine Berard dit Lepine and Marguerite Germaine dit Belisle. She was a descendent of Thomas Hayot, Sebastien Provencher and Andre Bergeron. To learn more about these men read, Our French-Canadian Ancestors Vols. 5, 6 & 19 by Thomas J. Laforest. Her parents soon left the Champlain Valley and moved to Pepin County, Wisconsin where the family finally settled. Antoine was the great great grandson of Gabriel Berard dit Lepine a well know "Coureur de Bois," a runner of the woods, from the Seigneurie of Lanoraie.  

In Clinton County the Lepine family were still known as "voyageurs" and the pamphlet "Antoine Paulin" (Reed 44) found in the Clinton County Historian's Office mentions the excellent singing voice of Mr. Lepine, a local voyageurs (3) and fisherman. 

Joseph-Eustache died on July 28, 1886 at the age of 63 and is buried at St. Louis de France Cemetery Sciota, New York. Following his death the family farm was run by their son Joseph. Angeline moved soon after the death of her husband to Nashua, New Hampshire to live with her son William when she decided to buy the farm from the heirs for $1.00 on the 6th of October 1897. She then sold the farm and all the equipment to her son Joseph on the 26th of March 1898 for the same amount.

In 1910 we find Angeline still living with her son William in Nashua, where she died on the 11th of February 1916 at age 88 of acute bronchitis and was buried on the 13th at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Nashua. 

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