Jacques Bertault established his residence in the Three Rivers area. On March 9, 1655 he acquired one seventh of "Ile de Milieu", the largest island in the area. Christophe Crevier owned two sevenths, and the remainder was owned by equal shares by Jean Pacaud, Michel Lemay, Pierre Dandonneau dit Lajeunesse, and Jacques Brisset. In the following five years, Crevier would buy his neighbor's shares and would become sole proprietor. The island was then renamed Ile de St. Christophe, after its new owner. Bertault also acquired another property from Father Delaplace on June 4, 1656. There was also a third parcel which had been conceded to his wife by Governor d'Ailleboust on June 7, 1650. In 1668, Bertault decided to build on the last parcel, the location of which was described as being between the heirs of Sebastien Dodier on the southwest and by the palisade on the northeast.
It does not seem as if Bertault spent much time farming for himself. Two records in notary Ameau's minutes seem to confirm this theory. On August 16, 1656, he bought grain from Jean Pacaud. Had he been cultivating his own farm, there would not have been a need for this purchase. The other contract dated April 26, 1662, was the settlement, by arbitral judgment, of differences he was having with Michel Leneuf du Herrison, for whom he was working as a farmer. Bertault was also a locksmith and it seems unlikely that he could work two farms and also work at his trade.
He was a hard working individual who provided well for his family because they seemed to have lived quite comfortably. The Bertaults, who had seemingly lived a quiet, uneventful life rearing their children and tending to daily obligations, were to end their days in the most tragic manner imaginable. Their names would brush the lips of every Frenchman in the colony.
The story revolves around their fourth child, Elisabeth Thérèse, more commonly called Isabelle. At the age of ten, she was promised to Charles Denart dit Laplume, son of Simon Denart and Jaquette Baron. The contract, drawn up on February 14, 1669, was annuled on August 1, 1670. Denart most likely returned to France because there exists no further mention of his name in any documents. What is perplexing and daunting to the imagination is why bertault was so anxious to marry his daughter at such an early age. Although a girl of twelve was of legal age to marry during this era, not many did. Moreover, there were more young men than young women in the colony. This was the time when contingents of young girls were being brought over from France to help balance the inequity of the population.
But then Bertault believed in early marriages for his daughters; Marguerite was married at twelve, and Suzanne at fourteen. Another daughter, Jeanne, married at twenty, most likely because she had a choice in the matter, since her parents had both died soon after her twelfth birthday.
After the annulment of Isabelle's marriage contract, Bertault wasted no time in looking for another husband for his daughter. Madame Bertault had been called away, with her husband's permission, to help with the delivery of a new baby at the home of Sieur Aube, when her husband was approached for his daughters hand. The young man in question was twenty-nine year old Julien Latouche, Sieur de Champlain, native of La Rochelle, Aunis, France. He had arrived in the colony with the Carignan Regiment in the Company of Grandfontaine. Bertault felt that Latouche had a promising future and would be able to provide a comfortable life for his daughter. He had been working as a farmer for Madame de Lafontaine, with whom he had obligated himself for period of five years, giving him ample time to earn enough money to purchase a farm of his own. Isabelle protested against the marriage, as much as a young obedient child could. She pleaded with her father to change his decision, confessing that she did not like this man, but Bertault held firm; he knew best. Isabelle's only hope was that her mother could intercede in her behalf.
When Madame Bertault returned home, the news of the impending marriage was broken to her. As she glanced across the room at her daughter's red and swollen eyes, she knew that all was not well at home. At the first opportune moment, Madame Bertault approached her husband to voice her dissaproval of this union, affirming that she could never consent to this marriage. Bertault was not pleased that his wife disagreed with his good judgment. They quarrelled, but neither could change the others mind. In the end, Bertault shouted that he was the master of the house and that the marriage would take place as he had planned.
It was not a blissful union from the onset. Latouche proved himself to be lazy, domineering, uncaring, abusive, and addicted to alcohol. Bertault soon had to admit that he had erred when he had forced his daughter to marry this man. Not having a farm of his own, Latouche had undertaken to work the farm of Lafontaine Poulin and later the one of Jutra Lavallee. He lost them both, either through laziness or drunkeness. Bertault concluded that he and his wife could accomplish more work with a pickaxe than Latouche could with two bulls and a plough. Besides not working, Latouche did not even provide for the everyday necessities of his child bride, including food. Very often, Bertault would send over eggs, bread, and meat, to his daughters home, or else he would invite her for dinner. Not having enough to eat was the more merciful part of Isabelle's existence, the more tragic and more heartbreaking part was that her husband beat her frequently, sometimes until she was bloodied. A child of twelve could not defend herself against a twenty-nine year old man, much less one who had been trained in the military. When he beat her, she would scream at him, "I wish that you were dead."
Little Isabelle cried many times on her Mother's shoulder and her mother cried with her. Isabelle begged and pleaded with her mother to find a way to get her out of this marriage. The poor child could not bear her intolerable existance. On several occasions, her father had tried to reason with Latouche, to have more patience with his young wife, but all pleas fell on deaf ears.
The days, the weeks and the months went by, and the Bertaults agonized as they watched their child in such dire misery. The pain of guilt added to their burden, because Isabelle had been forced into this brutal, loveless union. They helped their child in whatever fashion or manner possible, but this did not alleviate the pain that she went through. To the Bertault's their seemed to be no end, no way out of this tragedy. Although the Bertaults had difficulty in finding a solution to their problem, there were different avenues open to them. They had recourse to the courts and if, for some reason, this had not proven satisfactory, they could have taken their daughter home. Unfortunately, they did neither.
On Sunday afternoon, May 15, 1672, Bertault, his wife, and Isabelle crossed the river by canoe to go to work on the family farm. At the same time, Latouche and Jean Gauthier were leading cattle across the river, during which time, Latouche told the family that he would meet them the following day.
Latouche kept his word and met them on Monday. By this time, a plan had been contrived by Bertault, his wife, and their daughter, Isabelle. There was a poisonous plant known to the settlers that killed their hogs. Madame Bertault felt that these tiny leaves, half the length of a finger, could resolve all of their problems and they could live in peace once again. There had to be a plan, one that could not fail. They decided that in soup, which already had so many other ingredients in it, the leaves would go unnoticed. Madame Bertault prepared the soup and when it came time to add the poisonous herb, she decided that four or five leaves would be sufficient. When it was time to eat, the potion was served to Latouche.
What went through their minds as they watched him eat the soup? Were they nervous? Could they feel their hearts pounding frantically? Isabelle, at age thirteen knew right from wrong, but was she mature enough not to be influenced by her parents? What kind of people were the Bertaults? The father had forced his daughter into an early marriage, yet he had shown compassion toward his child in her time of need. The question remains, what kind of people resort to murder to resolve any problem.
When the soup was served, Latouche ate heartily. They watched for a sign. Perhaps he would bend over with stomach cramps, or gasp in pain, or perhaps his color would turn to sickly green. Latouche finished his soup and to their astonishment, he did not show any ill effects whatsoever. The plan had failed.
The following day, one hour after sunset, Madame Bertault went to see her son-in-law who was in the barn. As she entered, she said to him mockingly, "Now there's a nice son-in-law!" Latouche snarled back, "Why, aren't I very nice?" They continued to scream insults at each other until Madame Bertault, who could no longer stand the sight of her son-in-law, picked up a hoe which was leaning against a barrel and struck him. The blow had no effect on him. He lunged forward and grabbed her. As they scuffled, Latouche bit her fingers. Madame Bertault could not overcome his strength. She yelled, "Isabelle, Isabelle, come and help me." The young girl wanted to help her mother, but she could not find the courage within herself. To poison someone is one thing, but to beat someone to death, is another. Monsieur Bertault heard the commotion and ran to the barn. As he entered, he saw Latouche and his wife struggling. He tried to separate them and as he did Latouche grabbed him by the hair, pulled it and yanked at it. In the melée, Latouche grabbed Madame Bertault by the collar, attempted to kick her but Monsieur Bertault managed to stop him. Madame Bertault grabbed the hoe, swung it a second time hitting Latouche on the head. The blood streamed down his face and he fell. Bertault grabbed the hoe away from his wife, believing she did not have sufficient strength to strike the blows. Isabelle closed her eyes; she could not watch this. As Bertault lifted the hoe to strike another blow, Latouche sacreamed, "Help! You're killing me!" The hoe fell on its target and there was more blood. Latouche felt weak. He grabbed his father-in-law, but was easily repelled. Latouche continued to scream, the tension was mounting and Madame Bertault did not want her husband to reconsider because of Latouche's incessant screaming. She yelled, "Kill him! Kill Him!" Bertault struck his son-in-law again and again. With each blow there was more blood. It was everywhere. Bertault went to hit him again, stopped in mid-air, and threw the hoe down. The deed was done. Latouche lay dead. Bertault wiped his blood covered hands on his blood soaked clothes and winced in disdain. It was time to go home.
At night there is a stilness in the air, a silence that makes every sound reverberate for a long distance. It was because of the quiet of the spring evening that someone heard the commotion emanating from the Bertault barn.
Jean Gauthier was with his brother-in-law Louis Petit on the other side of the river that evening. Gauthier and Petit knew Latouche well. In fact, Gauthier had spent the previous Sunday in his company. They heard a voice which to them sounded like Latouche's screaming "Oh my God, I am dead! You're killing me! You'll be hanged!" For an hour and a half, they listened to these repeated cries and they could even hear the blows as Latouche was being struck.
When the Bertaults came out of the barn, Gauthier shouted at Monsieur Bertault, "Go, wretch that you are! You killed your son-in-law, you'll be hanged. There are enough witnesses." Bertault turned to his wife and said, "haven't I always told you that his would happen!" Madame Bertault was surprised and shocked that they had been witnessed, so much so that she remained speechless. The family went home. They were in trouble. After some thought, they returned to the barn. There was always a slight chance that Latouche was alive. As they entered the blood splattered barn they saw that it had been wishfull thinking. What to do? The body could not remain in the barn. It was late and it was dark. Isabelle, who had passively watched her mother and father kill her husband, now had to help them. The three of them grabbed Latouche's lifeless and bloodied body and dragged it to the nearby river, where they disposed of it by throwing it into the water. If the body were ever recovered, no one would ever know how Latouche had died.
The following day, Gauthier and Petit had decided to cross the river in an attempt to find Latouche's body. Perhaps it was out of fright that they had brought along Pierre Pepin and Jean Herou dit Bourgainville, or perhaps their friends insisted on accompanying them, having learned that Latouche had possibly been murdered the previous evening. The foursome found nothing but saw Bertault entering his house and decided to pay him a visit. Bertault came out of the house with his musket, removed it from its case, checked to see if it were loaded, and cocked it. To their questions, he answered that they would not find Latouche. The young men said "Then, you have killed him!" Bertault told them that he had not seen him since Monday because Latouche had gone to New England.
The following day, Thursday, May 19, Gauthier and Petit made their way to the Bertault barn to see what they could find. As they looked inside the barn, they gasped in horror. There was blood everywhere, on the ground, on barrels, on a hoe, and on an iron bar. They even found some stockings and some teeth which they believed to have belonged to the deceased. If they had any doubts in their minds about what thay had heard the previous evening, the sight of what lay before them eliminated all doubt. They felt ill and needed fresh air. They walked out of the barn, stunned and a little afraid. They drew in deep breaths in an effort to revitalize themselves and stood there for a moment motionless, in disbelief. The night before it had been a nightmare, but today it was a reality.
The young men left and went to the authorities to report their suspicions based on what they had heard and what they had seen. Their depositions were taken which led to the arrest of Jacques Bertault on the very same day. His wife and daughter had fled into the woods and could not be found.
Jean Gauthier, was the son of Gabriel Gauthier and Jeanne Chardavouenne and the son-in- law of Nicolas Petit and Marie Pomponnelle.
Louis Petit, was the son of Nicolas Petit and Marie Pomponnelle. Gillette Baume was his godmother.
Jean Herou dit Bourgainville was the son of Jean and Marie Boyer.
Pierre Pepin, was the son of Guillaume Pepin, and Jeanne Mechin.
There was more damaging evidence. Bourgainville testified that on the previous Sunday, Bertault had said to him that Latouche would die "by no other hand than my own". Their own son, ten year old Nicolas, also testified against them. He related that his parents had left on the proceeding Sunday to go to their farm and they had subsequently returned. He added that his mother and sister had fled into the woods on Wednesday, but that his father had been arrested by two soldiers who had bound his feet in irons. He claimed that he had recently heard his mother say that she would kill Latouche some day and that he had also heard his sister say that she wished her husband was dead.
The official report reads as follows:
"The year one thousand, six hundred and seventy-two, the nineteenth day of May, I Severin Ameau, undersigned scribe in Three Rivers, certify having been told that last Sunday afternoon, Julien de la Tousche accompanied by his wife left with his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Jacques Bertault and Gilette Baune, his wife, to go to their farm situated on the other side of the river of Three Rivers, facing their said home to plant their garden. And the following Tuesday, the said Julien de la Tousche was heard screaing, "Help, they're killing me" and a woman was heard saying, "Kill him, throw him into the river".
After which the said Jacques Bertault would have returned to his house in Three Rivers, but the said de la Tousche did not return. Someone had crossed the river of Three Rivers in a a canoe and having transported himself from the place which he had heard the screams, saw the said Jacques Bertault holding a gun. We believe that it was the said Bertault who killed the said de la Tousche, in view that he had formerly threatened him. Based on these assumptions, Sieur Jacques de Labadie, commandant of the said Three Rivers, had the said Bertault incarcerated. The said Gilette Baune and her daughter, wife of the said de la Tousche, have fled. We have gone into their home where we have seized their possessions and have taken an inventory thereof in presence of Nicolas Bertault, son of the said Bertault, about ten years of age..."
The next day, Friday, May 20, Bertault appeared before the fiscal procuror of Three Rivers, Louis de Godefroy Sieur de Normandville, for questionning. At this particular time, the judge's bench may have been vacant or the judge may have been absent. For one of these two reasons, the case was handled by the fiscal procurer. When questioned, Bertault claimed that he had not killed his son-in-law and that he did not know where he was. When asked about the blood all over the barn, he answered that that was the blood of three sturgeons which he had caught on the line of sieur de la Valliere. When asked if he had threatened to kill Latouche, he answered no and did not want to comment further. After Bertault was questioned he was confronted by each person who had testified against him, one at a time. In each case, he was asked if he knew them, if he believed them to be honest men, and if their existed any animosity between them. In each case, except for his son, Bertault answered that he knew them and that each of them meant him harm.
The following day, Gillette Baune and Isabelle Bertault were found in the woods and arrested. They were brought before Louis de Godefroy for questioning.
Madame Bertault testified that Latouche had beaten his wife, that she and her husband had come to their daughters rescue, and a scuffle had ensued, whereby she had hit Latouche with a hoe in order to help her husband and with the intention of stopping the fight. She said Latouche fell on the spot. She added that during the melée both her and her husband were bitten by Latouche and showed her fingers as proof. Believing that Latouche was shaken, they returned to their home. Half an hour later, they returned to the barn and found him dead and dragged his body to the river.
Later in the day, Bertault and his wife were confronted and her deposition was read before both of them. Bertault was asked why his testimony differed so sharply from that of his wife's. He answered that he had not wanted to say anything until after his wife had been questioned and for this reason, he had denied all the testimony brought forth by the witnesses. He further avowed that her testimony was true.
After the preliminary investigation, the three prisoners were sent to Quebec, where they could undergo a fair and equitable trial. The case was turned over to Intendant Talon, who gave copies of the sworn testimony to Monsieur Penseret, fiscal procurer. He, in turn, made a requisition to swear and interrogate the prisoners once again. To accomplish this, Talon, on June first, turned the case over to Sieur Chartier, lieutenant general, civil and criminal. The same day, Monsieur Chartier began the interrogations of the prisoners. The first one to be sworn in was Isabelle. She repeated more or less what she had testified to in Three Rivers concerning the murder, that it was in self defense. Among the questions asked and the answers given were:
Q. "When you were married , did you love your husband?"
A. "Not at all".
Q. "Why didn't you love him?"
A. "My father made me marry him without my consent, because he had a nice place on the farm of Madame de Lafontaine, for whom he was a farmer for five years, during which time he could earn enough money to buy himself a nice farm. The wife of Sieur Aubé was ready to have her baby asnd he asked my father to send my mother to help and she went. During this time, my father arranged the marriage. My mother did not want to consent to the union, but my father said, he was the master and the wedding took place."
Q. "Why did you not tell the priest (during the marriage ceremony) that you did not want Latouche for your husband?"
A. "My father was there, but my mother wasn't. If she would have been there I would have declared it."
Q. "Did your mother like Latouche at the time you married him?"
Q. "Are you happy your husband is dead?"
A. "No, and I wish I were dead instead of him."
Q. "Why did you hit your husband and why did you help your father to kill him?"
A. "I did not help."
Q. "Why did your mother and father threaten your husband often?"
A. "They have not threatened him, neither one nor the other."
Q. "Why did your brother say to your mother that they had killed his brother-in-law?"
A. "He did not say that."
Q. "Why did your father say that the deceased was in New England after he had murdered him?
A. "You will excuse me sir, he did not say that."
Q. "Wasn't your husband's voice heard in Three Rivers while he was being murdered?"
A. "It was my father who was screaming like that."
As Isabelle was questioned further, she maintained the innocence of her parents and insisted that her husband was killed in self defense.
The second one to be questioned was Jacques Bertault. By this time, he had serious doubts as to whether or not their story of self defense would hold and he was also very aware of what the punishment was for murder. He may have worked hard to provide a comfortable living for his family, but he was weak and spineless. When he was questioned, he attempted to shift the blame onto his wife. He related how his wife had tried to poison Latouche and when this plot had failed, she had struck Latouche with a hoe the following day.
"How did you plan to kill your son-in-law?"
"My wife said to me, 'Let's go to the farm.' Once we were there, she implored me many times until we killed my son-in-law. Our daughter never spoke to me about her problems, but spoke to her mother about getting rid of her husband. Sometimes I was even forced to leave the house because my wife was so relentless about getting rid of our son-in-law. I delayed hoping she would change her mind."
"How many times did you strike him?"
"I dont remember the number, but I believe it was less than ten when he died."
As Bertault was being interrogated he said that he knew that his daughter had watched her husband being murdered, but that he didn't know if she had struck him. To protect himself further, he added, "I never meant my son-in-law any harm. What I have done was but in obedience to my wife."
Gillette Baune was interrogated next. She admitted to having tried to poison Latouche and gave explicit details of the murder.
"What kind of plant did you use to try to poison your son-in-law, Julien Latouche?"
"I don't know what kind of plant it is, but it isn't any bigger than half the length of a finger. I only used four or five leaves which didn't do him any harm."
"Did you go into the barn to see your son-in-law one hour after sunset, where you said to him, 'Now there's a nice son-in-law?"
"Yes, and he answered me, 'Why, aren't I very nice?' "
"Did you not take a hoe that was next to a barrel and use it to strike your son-in-law?"
"That is true."
"Did your husband come in at the same time to take the hoe to finish killing your son-in-law?"
"That is true."
"Did you call your daughter to help you kill Latouche?"
"Yes, but I don't know if my daughter struck him."
"How many times did you strike the deceased?"
"I gave the first blow, but it did not draw blood. Then I hit him again on the head and he fell to the ground. My husband came in at the same time. I dont know how many times he struck him but after many blows, he died."
"After you killed your son-in-law, what did you do?"
"When we knew he was dead, the three of us threw him into the river."
At the end of her interrogation, Gillette Baune admitted that they had maliciously killed Julien Latouche. She said that they had thought about it for a long time, because they never had any peace of mind since the marriage of Latouche to their daughter asnd because he was worthless.
On the 8th of June, the fiscal procuror rendered his verdict. He asked that the three prisoners be executed and that no allowance be made for Isabelle because of her age as she also had been involved in the murder. Sitting on Monsieur Chartier's court were Juchereau de la Ferte, Ruette Dauteuil de Barmen, Duquet, Morin de Rochebelle, and Simon Denis. They showed no pity for Jacques Bertault and Gillette Baune, but in spite of the petition of the fiscal procuror, they were merciful to Isabelle because of her age. The official verdict reads:
"...we have declared that said Jacques Bertault, Gillette Baune his wife, and Isabelle Bertault their daughter, tried and convicted of the said crimes of imprisonement and murder committed against the person of the said Julien de la Tousche. For reparation of which, we condemned and are condemning the said Bertault, Baune his wife, and their daughter to be taken from and removed from the prisons of this jurisdiction by the executor of high justice, led with a rope around their necks, an ardent torch in their hands, before the door of the parish church in this city. There, the said Bertault, bare headed and in his shirt, and the said women, dressed in their shirts to the waist, will kneel and ask forgiveness of God, the king, and justice for the said crimes by them committed. Thereafter they will be led by the said executioner to the scaffold that will be erected for this purpose in the public square of the "haute ville". There will be a cross of St. André on which Jacques Bertault will be lain to receive a swift blow on the right arm, then strangled. After his death, another blow will be struck on his left arm and a blow on each of his thighs. The said Gillette Baune will be hanged and strangled on a scaffold which will be erected for this purpose at the said place and the said Isabelle Bertault will witness the said executions with a rope tied around her neck as previously stated. After the executions, the body of the said Jacques Bertault will be placed on a wheel at Cap aux Diamants, the usual site, to remain and serve as an example. We further condemn the said Bertault, his wife and his daughter, to one hundred livres fine payable to the Seigneurs of this region and to court costs. The remainder of their property will remain secured and confiscated and distributed to whomever it should belong."
Bertault and his wife appealed their sentences to the Sovereign Council. On June 9 the Council presided over by Governor de Courcelles and assisted by de Tilly, Damours, de la Tesserie, Dupont, Bonamour, Roussel and the fiscal procurer, rendered their verdict. They upheld the verdict of the lower court and only modified the judgement as to the fine. Bertault and his wife were fined 60 livres to be divided thus: one half to the Recollets Fathers to pray God for the repose of the soul of Julien Latouche and to court costs; the other half and the surplus of their estate to Nicolas and Jeanne Bertault, the minor children of Jacques Bertault and Gillette Baune.
The cost of the trial came up to about 139 livres. This included the salaries of the judges, the fiscal procuror, the scribe, the bailiffs, and the executioner. Included in this sum was 15 livres for the nourishment of the three prisoners for over a month.
The sentence was renderer in the morning and immediately delivered to the prisoners. Only one appeal was granted to prisoners and judgement was rendered swiftly. On the same day, June 9, 1672, at four o'clock in the afternoon, Jacques Bertault and Gillette Baune were executed.
Jacques Bertault had been condemned to the punishment of the wheel. This punishment is of German origin and dates back in France to 1534, when it was introduced by an edict of François I. It was reserved for particularly serious crimes such as murders, poisonings, nighttime thefts in homes when violence occurred, and highway robbery.
For this procedure, a scaffold was erected, usually in the town square. A cross of St. André was built on the center of the scaffold, lying flat. It was constructed of wood with two joists secured in the center where they join, forming an oblique cross. Grooves had been carved into the wood to admit the thighs, the legs, and the upper and lower arms of the convicted.
The criminal was usually clad in a long shirt which the executioner raised at the sleeves and at the hem up to the thighs, to secure the prisoner at each joint onto the cross. His head was lain on a stone and turned toward the heavens.
The first phase of the punishment was a beating to break the extremities. The executioner armed himself with a metal pipe, one and a half inch in diameter, with a ball on one end which served as a handle. With this weapon, he would strike an arm and a leg two times each. Then striding the body, he would break the two remaining extremities with two blows each. Lastly, he would give three more blows on the chest. The condemned was thus struck a total of eleven times with the bar. It was impossible to break the spinal column, as it was protected by the back of the cross.
The second phase of the punishment was the exposure on the wheel. The criminal's body was carried to a small carriage wheel which had been prepared by removing the hub or nave. It was then placed horizontally on a pivot. The executioner, after having bent the criminal's thighs underneath in such a fashion that his heels would touch the back of his head, tied him to the rim of the wheel. The condemned remained exposed in this fashion for a specified amount of time.
The punishment of the wheel was never applied to women ‘because of the decency due to their sex’.
It was often indicated by a clause of provision that the condemned was secretly strangled as soon as he was placed on the wheel. To this end, a winch was affixed at the top of the scaffold from which a rope ran down, circled around the victim's neck, and ran up again to the winch. With the help of levers operated by two men, the rope rolled around the winch, tightened and strangled the victim.
Jacques Bertault was fortunate that he had faced a group of men on the Sovereign Council who were merciful. He was sentenced to be hanged first, therefore the torture was purely symbolic.
Isabelle had to watch this medieval brutality as part of her punishment. She cried and she sobbed. It tore at her heart to see her father's body mangled and mutilated. He had been very strict and he had forced her to marry Latouche, but at the same time, he had been kind to her. She knew that he had loved her and she had loved him too. She wished Latouche were alive. It was not worth it. But her husband was dead and now was the present. The clock could not be turned back. Her father was gone and now she must bid a last farewell to her mother, her beloved mother, with whom she had been so close and had shared so much. She cried "Maman, maman, do you have to leave me. What will I do? I need you." The tears streamed down her face. She remembered how her mother had always protected her and cared for her. She remembered how her mother had listened to her problems, oh so attentively, and had always been so sympathetic to her. She remembered the warmth and the touch of her mother's arms around her. It seems that her mother had always been there when she needed her. As she wiped the tears away, she saw them putting that rough rope, that awful noose, around her mother's throat. How could this have happened, she thought. She blamed herself for complaining too much and wondered why she had not suffered silently. She felt guilty. She was loosing the most wonderful friend she ever had and it was her fault. She wiped her tear full eyes once more and looked up into the scaffold. She shrieked in pain, "Maman! Maman!" But it was over; her mother was dead. During her trial, Isabelle had said she wished she were dead. She had meant it when she had said it, but today she wished it more than ever before. She felt empty, alone and abandoned.
Young Isabelle did not know that this day was only the beginning of her punishment. She would wish she were dead many times during her lifetime. At thirteen, she was unaware of how very cruel people can be. This part of her life could not be neatly tucked away in a back corner of a bureau drawer never to surface again. She had been a part of this tragedy and she would be reminded of it again and again. She would learn the meaning of ostracism and the heartache of hearing whispers and pointed fingers as she walked down the road. The most devastating pain would be the cruelties her children would be forced to endure because of what she had done.
Where Isabelle went to live after her parent's executions remains a mystery. It is possible that one of her older sisters could have taken her into her home, but then, the sisters could have been upset over the shame they felt that she had brought upon the family name. Isabelle could have returned to her parents' home to help her younger brother and sister, aged ten and twelve.
Regardless as to where she went and what she did for the next few months, it had to be a trying and difficult time for her.
Was Isabelle pregnant with her husband's child at this time to compound her problems? During the trial, Isabelle was asked if she were pregnant and she answered that she was not, that she had had relations with he husband, but not as often as he wished because she did not love him. Was Isabelle telling the truth or was she concealing the truth as she did about everything else to the very end? Isabelle was telling the truth. The record of death of a Thérèse Latouche Champlain is found in the parish register of the church of the Immaculee Conception in Three Rivers. It was left unsigned by the priest and reads simply, "After many months of illness that reduced her to such an extreme state that she threw herself into the river without any awareness of what she was doing, that is why we have not attributed her with any blame for this crime and have rendered her with all the funeral honors that we render to persons of her rank". Mgr. Cyprien Tanguay in his Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes attributed a child to Isabelle. His only source was this vaguely written record. A few historians copied this reference without further investigation. Research proves that Isabelle never had a daughter. In the first place, the record of death does not mention the parents, nor the spouse if there were one, nor even the age of the deceased. The priest implies that she was not a child, but an adult. Trying to find the record of birth for Thérèse Latouche proved fruitless. All the births registered under that name are dated in the late 1690's making these particular individuals to young to be the person in question. In the 1667 census, Champlain is called Latouche Champlain. Among the
inhabitants of this settlement is a person called Sieur de Latouche. Who was this person? Could the Thérèse in the death record have been his daughter? It is not only very possible but very likely. Champlain like other settlements was a seigneury and it was owned by Étienne Pézard, who had adopted the sobriquet of La Touche dit Champlain. Sobriquets are simple nicknames which the French were very fond of using. It was the style to use a sobriquet and most of the forefathers added a second name to the family name. The sobriquet used did not necessarily have any meaningful connotation, but rather was chosen at the whim of the individual. Very often the family name was eliminated and the sobriquet used in its place. Étienne Pézard was known as sieur de Latouche dit Champlain. In 1664, he married Madeleine Mullois and they had a sizable family. Upon examination of the census of 1681, there is listed among the children of Étienne
Pézard, a daughter by the name of Thérèse who would have been born in 1672. Isabelle Bertault, on the other hand, does not have a daughter by that name living with her, nor does the census make mention of any other Thérèse Latouche. Trying to locate a record of marriage or a record of death for a Thérèse Pézard, Thérèse Latouche, or Thérèse Champlain, except for the above mentioned record, proved fruitless. There exists proof that sieur de Latouche dit Champlain had a daughter by the name of Thérèse, but there is not even one document to substantiate that Isabelle had a daughter by that name. Moreover the priest wrote ‘of her rank’, which seems to signify that she was not of the lower class, but of the upper echelon. At the time, suicide was comparable to murder as indicated in the record of death. Did the priest try to hide the fact that she was Pézard's daughter by omitting here parents' names because he was a seigneur?
Social rank was important at the time and the seigneur was an influential person. As customary, Thérèse could have used any of the family names or a combination thereof, therefore Thérèse Latouche Champlain.
Isabelle found the following few months difficult. She no longer had her mother to run to with her problems and she felt quite alone. Then, one day, she met Noël Laurence, widower of Marie Limoges, and son of Noël Laurence and Marie Biat, from Parc d'Anxtot, diocese of Rouen, Normandy, France. They were attrated to each other and found they had a lot in common. Laurence certainly new of Isabelle's past. With the population of Canada at just a few thousand people, a sensational trial of that kind couldn’t have escaped anyone. It gave the populace something to gossip about for a long time. Evidently Isabelle did not have to agonize on how she tell Laurence about her past. On the other hand, the man was a very compassionate, understanding, and forgiving person. The courtship led to marriage and the vows were pronounced on November 6, 1673, in Bourcherville.
The couple resided in the area of Sorel for a short time then moved across the river where they made their home in the Repentigney area. From this union six children were born.
Received from Laurie Howland. She received it, as is, from someone doing genealogical research. Called Trois Rivières archives to see if they had the original French report. No luck.
Micheline MacDonald March 2000.