All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Tag: Fougère

Our Melanson Family: A haunting history?

Since we’re coming up onto Halloween, I decided to repost this story about our own Melanson family’s haunting history.


I posted in the past about the ancestry of my mother’s Fougère and Melanson families. The Fougères and Melansons were original Acadian settlers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, having traveled from France in the late 17th century.

My mother was the only daughter of three children born to Jude Edmond Melanson and Stella Irene Fougère. The first born son was about twelve years older than her next oldest brother, Paul, who in turn was only about two years older than her.

In an email he wrote to my mother after the rest of their family had long since passed on, Uncle Paul stated categorically that he did not believe in ghosts. This being said, however, he has never found an explanation for the strange occurrences he described that happened while he lived at and remodeled my Grandmére’s house after he moved into it upon her death in 1961. As he put it in a recent email to me, “We never (saw) things like ghosts, shadows etc, but whenever I made changes to her house strange things would happen to let me know (she) wasn’t very happy with what I was doing to her house”.

Once he started experienHalloween housecing these unexplained events, Paul’s curiosity got the better of him and he did a great deal of research into ghosts or spirits remaining in the house or other buildings after they died. He learned that it is believed that a person who was strong willed or had a very strong personality could remain within a building or home they lived in and/or loved during their lifetime. A traumatic death was also known to contribute to a spirit remaining after death.

Uncle Paul deduced that the unexplained events had something to do with the renovations since they didn’t happen during the long periods of inactivity between projects. The severity of the events seemed to depend on the extent of the renovations being done.

Uncle Paul and his wife had two children, a girl born in 1961, and a boy in 1963. They also adopted a 1 1/2 year old girl named Samantha in 1969.

After Paul’s marriage in May 1960, it became apparent that my grandmother was troubled. Although the reasons were never clear, Grandmére committed suicide and was found by Grandpére about noon on Saturday, July 9, 1960 – just under one year after she had flown to Germany to visit with me as a newborn and my Mom and Dad, as they had been posted there by the Canadian Forces before my birth.

Grandmére’s autopsy revealed she had taken a great deal of valium. She had also made prior arrangements for her hair to be done and the clothing she wished to be buried in was laid out on a chair. No suicide note was found.

Uncle Paul went against her wishes and moved in with Grandpére. Soon after, Grandpére’s wholesale business went under and he lost everything, leaving Uncle Paul in a position where he would have had no choice but to look after Grandpére anyway.

Although the house was based on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) house plan 215, Grandmére modified it extensively. First she flipped it, reversing the complete house layout with the living room on the right and the bedrooms on the left. She had the house length and width increased by 2 feet, final dimensions being 42′ X 26′ or 1092 square feet, as well as several other changes. She was the prime contractor and the carpenter, electrician and other trades people answered to her. Upon Paul’s suggestion, Grandmére made one final change and had the roof style changed to a hip roof.

Paul didn’t make any major renovations after he had full ownership of the house in 1967. He began making extensive changes soon after, most of which Grandmére would not have approved of.

The following list of renovations is not in any particular order, but it will paint a picture of the work done over time.

1.     A wall between the living room and hall was removed.

2.     The kitchen renovations included:

⦁ changing the heavy porcelain kitchen sinks to aluminum;
⦁ transferring the floor tiles from the family’s older home for use in the newer one;
⦁ replacing these same tiles again later with carpet; and
⦁ refinished the cabinets and replaced the counter tops.
⦁ installed new appliances

3.     Paul’s changes in the bathroom involved:

⦁ replacing Grandmére’s beloved pink wall tiles with beige ones;
⦁ installing ceramic tile flooring;
⦁ installing shower doors;
⦁ adding a new sink and fixtures; and
⦁ painting the tub brown to match the new decor.

5.     The house interior and exterior were completely repainted several times, including the woodwork trim that Grandmére had painted a rather ‘ghastly’ (Paul’s word) color she mixed and called “Coral Rose”.

6.     Insulated the house with urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI).

7.     Changed the exterior shingles to vinyl siding.

8.     Replaced the living room picture window.

9.     Put in a 20′ x 40′ swimming pool in the back yard.

With the exception of the vinyl siding, insulation and the new living room window, Uncle Paul always did the work himself. While undergoing the renovations, and usually in the evenings, strange things would happen. Most of the time these took place while everyone was in a different room.

It became so commonplace that Paul’s kids would say, “There’s Mamére again.” Nothing ever happened in the basement and there were never any apparitions, ghosts or anything else visible at any time.

Some of the more common events were:

  • Dishes falling out of the kitchen cupboards.
  • Cupboard doors opening and closing by themselves.
  • Pictures falling off the wall in the hall and living room. The nail remained in the wall and the hanging wire on the picture did not break. The pictures just seemed to ‘jump’ off their hook and land on the floor.

Being a natural skeptic, Paul tried to rationalize these occurrences as having been caused naturally, such as by earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, etc. In most instances, he could come up with a plausible explanation until he started major projects.

While doing the kitchen and bathroom renovations in particular the events escalated dramatically. In addition to the common occurrences described above, platters that were standing behind a stack of plates would come out of closed cupboards and land on the kitchen floor, unbroken. Strange noises were frequently heard.

One of the more frightening and dramatic events occurred when Paul removed the pink tiles from the bathroom wall. Before Paul cleaned the grouting from the wall, his son was cleaning up in the bathroom and Paul stood at the open door talking to him, when the old grout remaining on the walls began shooting around the bathroom. It didn’t fall to the floor with gravity as would normally be expected, but was ‘bouncing’ from one wall to the opposite wall, making a sharp snapping sound as it flew off the wall. This activity continued for about five minutes, while Paul and his son stood rooted to the spot and could only watch in disbelief. The general consensus amongst the family was that Grandmére was ‘pissed off’ at Paul for removing the pink tiles.

Upon deciding to replace the bathtub, it was discovered that it could not be removed and therefore Paul decided to paint it a chocolate brown. The paint was a two-part epoxy paint and took several steps and days to apply. The first step was to sand the tub, then the first coat was applied and left to dry for three days. Paul admits that upon finishing the first coat, he was dismayed at how bad it looked, with white streaks, uneven coloring etc. It was a mess.

Paul came home from work around 6:30 the day after and was standing in the bathroom door looking at the tub, completely disgusted with the results, when, “CRASH!!!!!” A loud noise was heard from within Grandpere’s bedroom directly across the hall from the bathroom. It was dark and the lights were off. Everyone else having been in the living room at the time, they all came running.

Paul turned the lights on in Grandpére’s room to see a set of TV tables scattered all over the room – on the bed, on the floor, etc., looking as though someone had kicked them. They were not broken but they were in complete disarray, with the legs disconnected from the table tops.

After all of this, Paul was beginning to take this possibility of a ghost a bit more seriously.

Paul was working at an airport at the time as Manager, making and operating target airplanes for the military. I told some of his colleagues about the situation at home with the TV tables. One of the girls got together with a friend over the following weekend and over a bottle of wine decided to play with a Ouija board.

After the next weekend, she phoned Paul to report what had happened. She said that as a lark they asked the Ouija board who had scattered the TV tables. In response, she got got ‘Sim’. She could make nothing of this at the time and thought the board was referring to the name ‘Sam’ in reference to Paul’s youngest adopted daughter. As soon as he heard the story, Paul told her that ‘SIM’ was most likely Grandmére’s initials – Stella Irene Melanson. Paul had never mentioned his mother’s name at work, always referring to her as ‘Mom’.

He had, however, mentioned Sam’s name at work. With this in mind, Paul’s friend decided that she would try again the following weekend – just in case she had heard Grandmére’s name at some time. She asked Paul for a question that only his mother would know the answer to. Grandmére had left Paul her car, which was a gray and  white Ford, and he had sold it soon after her death in 1960. He did not work at the airport until 1978, so there was no way they could have know the answer to the question he gave, “What color and make of car did his Mom have?”

When she called him again the following Monday, she asked if his Mom had owned a green and white Ford. Paul told her the answer was wrong and that the “stupid board was nothing but a toy”. This colleague then explained that the board spelled out GR + WH and when asked what type of car the board spelled FD. She just assumed it was referring to a green and white ford. This was most likely misinterpreted, the GR actually standing for gray, WH for white and FD for Ford, which she did own.

Grandpére died in July of 1982 and about three months later, Paul decided to remove the UFFI foam from the house, replace the living room window and to have the outside of the house redone with vinyl siding. To do this he had to remove the mirror from over the fireplace so it would not get broken if the walls bulged with the new insulation. This had been Grandmére’s flawless mirror that she had paid the princely sum of $135 for – in 1960!!

Paul was sure that this would be the ultimate provocation of her wrath, for this mirror had been her pride and joy.

Surprisingly, nothing further happened – ever.


Would you like to read more about the Melansons and Fougères?

Transcription: Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand

Transcription: Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand


Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.
Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.

Province of Nova Scotia


Date of Marriage:  Feb. 1st 1909
Place of Marriage:  Arichat
County:  Richmond
How Married:  by license or banns:  Banns
Date of Publication, if by Banns:  Jan. 17th – 24th – 31st 09

Full Name of GROOM:  Alfred Babin.
His Age:  25 yrs.
Condition (Bachelor or widower):  Bachelor
Occupation:  Sailor
Residence:  West Arichat
Where Born:  – do –
Parents’ Names:  Benj. Babin & Sophie Goyetche.
Parents’ Occupation:  Farming.

Full Name of BRIDE:  Mary Marchand.
Age:  19 yrs.
Condistion (Spinster or Widow):  Spinster.
Her Place of Residence:  Arichat
Where Born:  Salem, Mass.
Parents’ Names:  Désiré Marchand & Mary J. Boudreau.
Parents’ Occupation:  Farming.

Witness Names:
Albert Babin
Minnie Fougère

Signature of parties Married:
Alfred Babin
Mary Marchant

Officiating Clergyman:  [??] Mombourquette
Denomination of Clergyman:  Catholic


I Certify, That the marriage of the persons above named was duly celebrated by me at the time and place and in the manner stated in this register.
[??] Mombourquette
Officiating Clergyman


When a marriage is celebrated by License, this register, filled up and signed by the officiating clergyman, must be returned, with the License, to the Issuer from whom the said License was obtained, and the Issuer will pay to the clergyman 25 cents for both Register and License, not 25 cents for each. When the marriage is celectrated by banns, the Register is to be filled up, signed and returned by the officiating clergyman without unnecessary delay to the nearest Deputy Issuer of Marriage Licenses, who is authorized to pay him 25 cents for each Register so returned — the Deputy Issuer repaying himself from License money in his hands — and including amount so paid in his Quarterly Returns. Clergymen may obtain Marriage Registers from Deputy Issuer.
Issuers must return all Licenses, Affidavits and Registers to the Provincial Secretary’s Office, with their Quarterly Accounts.


Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.
Marriage Register label for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.

Second Page
Feb. 1/09
Alfred Babin
and Mary Marchand



Marriage Register for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.
Marriage Register envelope for Alfred Babin and Mary Marchand.

Richmond – 1909
Babin, Alfred
Marchand, Mary

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The Bourgs of Acadia


I and my children are descended from several noteworthy immigrants from France who were original pioneers of Acadia, including the Bourgs of Acadia.


In the past, I have posted about our Melanson ancestors, who we most readily associate ourselves with, since the family name carried down through the generations to my mother, who stopped using the Melanson name upon marrying my father, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine.

Bourgs of Acadia were a founding family in Port Royal
Bourgs of Acadia lived in Port Royal.

In fact, considering sheer numbers, our ties to the Bourg family are the strongest. Antoine Bourg, originally from Martaizé, near Loudon, in France, was the original pioneer of this family and 9th great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart. The Bourg and Melanson families intersect with the marriage of Anne (Jeanne) Bourg, daughter of François Bourg and Marguerite Boudrot to Charles Melanson, son of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas (and grandson to the original Melanson pioneer couple – Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla (Mellanson).


Antoine Bourg


Antoine was born in about 1609 in Martaizé, Loudun, Vienne, France. He immigrated to Port Royal around 1640 and married Antoinette Landry in 1643. Born about 1618 in France, she lived in Bourg Village near Port Royal with her family and shows in the 1693 Acadian census as a widow in the house of her son Abraham and his wife Marie in Port Royal. Therefore, it seems safe to assume Antoine died prior to 1693. According to this same census, her property at the time consisted of 12 cattle, 20 sheep, eight hogs, 26 arpents of land and one gun.

Their children were François (born about 1643); Marie Bourg (1644-1730); Jean Bourg (1645-1703); Bernard Bourg (1649-1725); Martin Bourg; Jeanne Bourg (1650-abt 1700); Renée Bourg (born about 1655); Huguette Bourg (1657); Jeanne Bourg (1658-1724); Abraham Bourg (1660-after 1736); Marguerite Bourg (1667-1727); Alexander Bourg (1667).

In various Acadian censuses, Antoine Bourg is recorded to own land holdings of various sizes; differing quantities of livestock including cattle, sheep and hogs; and a gun.

Sir William Phipps
Sir William Phipps

In 1690, a New England Commander, Sir William Phips, took Port Royal. Governor Meneval of Acadia, after considering the circumstances and the fact that they were greatly outnumbered, opted to surrender. At the time of his surrender, Meneval was assured the church and private property would be left alone, but over twelve days of pillaging, the church and several private buildings were destroyed.

Phips made the Acadians swear allegiance to King William and Queen Mary, in what Phips later falsely described as great rejoicings and acclaim.

After Phips left Acadia, the Acadians lived in a political and patriotic limbo. Authority had not been asserted by either New England or France and the Acadians, preferring to avoid more direct authority and control, insisted the French representative not try to change anything. They feared the English would hear of it and decide to return to punish them. New England made no attempt to assert its authority and the French made no attempt to regain control.

My children and I are directly descended from three of their sons, namely Francois, Bernard and Abraham, who were each an eighth great grandfather to my children.


François Bourg


The oldest child of Antoine and Antoinette was François Bourg born about 1643 in Port Royal. About 1665, he married Marguerite Boudrot (born 1648), daughter of Michel Boudrot and Michelle Aucoin.  Their seven children were Michel “Michaud” Bourg (1663-1712); Marie Bourg (born 1668); Alexandre “dit Belle-humeur” Bourg (1671-1760); Marguerite Bourg (born 1673); Magdeleine Bourg (born 1677); Pierre Bourg (born 1681); Anne “Jeanne” Bourg (1683-1749), married to Charles Melanson (1675-1757) and both being my children`s seventh great grandparents. During the years 1671 to 1678, François is recorded as a farmer who in 1678 owned eight acres of land and 15 cattle. François died sometime around 1686 in Port Royal.


Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat


Of particular interest and notoriety, is the husband of François Bourg`s daughter Magdeleine. Commonly known as `Baptiste`, he was Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat.

Born in 1663, in Bergerac, France, he was notorious and fairly well documented as a pirate and cad. He also would be thought of as a playboy by today`s standards. Taken in May of 1690 as one of the prisoners of Sir William Phips during his seizure of Port Royal, Baptiste sometime afterward managed to gain his freedom. The following year, he dedicated much of his time to sailing the waters of New England in his quest for prizes.

Governor Frontenac of Quebec
Governor Frontenac of Quebec

Although Baptiste was frequently captured, charged, imprisoned and even on one later occasion sentenced to hanging, he either managed to escape on his own or was released after intervention and negotiations on his behalf by Governor Frontenac of Quebec on several occasions or the Governor of Acadia on another occasion by threatening retaliation were Baptiste indeed hanged.

During his pirating career, Baptiste took François Bourg`s 15 year old daughter Magdeleine as his bride in 1693. Shortly after marrying, Baptiste moved his new wife to Quebec on the pretense that she was in danger in Port Royal. It is far more likely, from what we now know, he wished to hide his marriage from those who were already aware of his other wives in several other localities including France. On November, 1695, Frontenac wrote to the Minister of France, to whom he had once praised Baptiste, informing him that he had heard that Baptiste had several other wives, including in various locations. It is definite that Baptiste had one wife at Bergerac, France, namely Judith Soubiron (born 1660), who gave birth to his daughter Judith-Marie Maisonnat in 1689.

In 1695, once the news of Baptiste`s polygamy broke in Acadia, Magdeleine, recent mother to his daughter Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat Bourg decided to return home to her father and mother.

Baptiste then returned to France to retrieve his lawful wife and daughter. His wife, Judith Soubiron, later bore him two more children, Pierre and Jean, dying in Port Royal on October 19, 1703.

Baptiste remarried on January 12, 1707, to a widow, Marguerite Bourgeois, the daughter of Jacques Bourgeois. She had been married twice previously, first to Jean Boudrot, son of Michel Boudrot; second to Emmanuel Mirande, a Portuguese.

Baptiste`s poor young bride, Magdeleine Bourg, later married Pierre LeBlanc, Jr. in 1697. He was the son of Pierre LeBlanc, Sr. and Marie Terriot. They had seven children.

Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat


Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat, the daughter of Baptiste and Magdeleine Bourg, was a major influence in Annapolis Royal during the late 1600`s. Known to be somewhat domineering and aloof, she fostered enough grudging respect and influence that she could exercise her own authority in the matters of soldiers, whether to be released from custody or other administrative matters without her right to do so being questioned. She presided at councils of war in the fort, appearing to have inherited some of her father`s spirit and drive.

In 1711, at about 16 years of age, she married William Winniett, a French Huguenot who was a leading merchant in Acadia, at some point receiving the title of “Honorable”`, becoming a member of the Governor`s Council. His sympathy for the Acadians was made obvious resulting in his being under suspicion. He drowned in Boston, bequeathing his considerable property and assets “to my beloved wife Magdeleine Winniett,” whom he had appointed sole executrix. William Winniett and Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat had 13 children born in Annapolis, including seven boys and six girls.

Bernard Bourg


Antoine and Antoinette Bourg’s fourth child, Bernard, was born in 1649 in Port Royal. About 1670, he married Françoise Brun (1652-1725), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie-Renée Brau, both immigrants to Acadia from France.  They had eleven children, including Marguerite “Margueritte” Bourg (1670-1747); Marie-Claire “Claire” Bourg (1670); René Bourg (born 1676); Jeanne Bourg (1677-1725); Anne Bourg (1680-1751); Françoise Bourg (1682-1715); Claire “Clare” Bourg (born 1682); Abraham Bourg (1685-1751); Renée Bourg (1687); Marie Bourg (1690); Claire Bourg (1692). Between 1671 and 1725, Bernard and his family continuously lived in Port Royal, their livestock and personal property steadily increasing in quantity and value over the years. Prior to his death in Port Royal on May 23, 1725, Bernard had amassed an estate consisting of  24 cattle, 18 sheep, 30 arpents of land and one gun.


Abraham Bourg


Born 1662 at Port-Royal, Abraham was the tenth child of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry. In 1683, Abraham married a young widow, Marie- Sébastienne Brun (1658-1736), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie Brau. Marie`s first husband was François Gautrot, who died young, leaving her alone to care for a young son, also named François. They were recorded in the 1678 census of Port Royal with a young son, two cattle and a gun. Young François was recorded living with his new family 1791 census. Abraham and Marie- Sébastienne had nine children including Jean-Baptiste Bourg (born 1683); Marguerite Bourg (born 1685); Claude Bourg (1687-1751); Pierre Bourg (1689-1735); Marie Bourg (1690-1727); Marguerite Bourg (born 1691); Michel Bourg (1691-1761); Charles Bourg (born 1694); and Joseph Bourg (born 1697).

Abraham is show in the Acadian censuses between 1686 and 1701 accumulating up to 26 arpents of land; livestock including up to 14 head of cattle, 20 sheep and 12 hogs; and dozens of fruit trees.

Abraham appears to be a relatively educated person of standing as his signature is recorded on the 1695 oath and in the Port Royal church register. He also witnessed the marriage of his daughter, Marie and Jean Fougère, as well as his son Michel’s wedding to Anne Boudrot.

Abraham was one of those chosen to sail to Ile Royale to assess the lands there for settling. The land was found to not be good for farming and the majority of Acadians did not wish to leave the fertile lands of the Annapolis Valley. It appears though, that Abraham did settle there as in 1720, the first record appears indicating he was living in Port Toulouse, Ile-Royale.

Abraham Bourg was chosen to be a Deputy chosen representing the Acadian districts in 1720, but was apparently released from his duties in 1726 due to his deteriorating condition and lameness.

On September 16, 1727 he was one of those who refused to take the oath of allegiance to George II. Lieutenant-Governor Lawrence Armstrong claimed that they had assembled the inhabitants a day earlier and “instead of persuading them to their duty by solid arguments of which they were not incapable they [the deputies] frightened them . . . by representing the oath so strong and binding that neither they nor their children should ever shake off the yoke.” Although many had taken the oath in 1695, the Acadians were using the taking of the oath as a bargaining tool in 1727. They claimed and wished to preserve neutrality between the English and the French and Mik’maq. The Acadians also strongly wished to practice their own religion.

The Deputies were sentenced to prison for their actions in opposition to the adopting of the oath. Bourg, “in consideration of his great age” (he was 67) was allowed to leave the territory without his goods. For their alleged opposition they were committed to prison. The others were released in a short time, so Abraham may never have left at all.

Abraham died and was buried at Port Toulouse, but the actual dates are not known.