Joseph LeRoux"The Patriot"
Joseph LEROUX (dit ROUSSON)
It was a Sunday on November 18th , soon in the morning that volunteer constable arrive at at the LeRoux’s house to arrest Joseph and take him to prison. (These volunteer constables were canadian english to whom political authorities had given a power of arrest). Accordong to Dad, when the constables wanted to put the handcuffs on Joseph (inside his house), Joseph flattly refused,"No you will not tie my hands, I will follow you but you will not tie my hands". The constables accepted to take him without handcuffs. Once at the St-Lawrence river, they had to travel on a boat and still the constables wanted again to put handcuffs on Joseph which said:"No, never, you will carry me dead rather than hands tied, I will not make any problems but you will never tie my hands". The constables conceded to Joseph ultimatum and all and everything goes normally. Once arrived at the jail, the constables are worried and do not want to be found at fault and once again they try to handcuffs Joseph, but it is useless and Joseph enter into the jail without handcuffs and with free hands.
We hardly know anything on Euphrosine’s life. She was from Les Cèdres Qc, born in 1804 as Joseph. She was the oldest of her family. She had learn at a tender age to assume her responsabilities. In this era, women did work long hours to maintain the house which inside was completed in a simple and primitive way. In order to prepare the meals, the task was exacting, given families were numerous and means very modests. Women had also to find time to prepare and weave rolls of material to cut and sew garments. Women would knit woolen caps, stocking or mits. Often, a good old grand-mother would stay within the family and would take over this task with the older daughters. It is a known fact that in these periods of crisis, life was even harder for women. They were often alone with many children. They always lived with the anxious worry of maybe not seing their husband or their sons, as they could be arrested or imprisonned or even killed by english canadians. Tragic events persist on the LeRoux family. A few days after the arrest of Joseph, the english canadians goes on the country roads and burn houses and barns, according to the good will of the head of their group. Somethime they only search and loot the house. One day Euphrosine see a fire near her home. She leave the pork & beans to simmer over the stove, take hastily her children with a few pieces of bread and some apples maybe, to go and hide in the woodlot, most probably to their sugaring house. There were at this moment the six children of tender age and with Charles 8 months old, after a few days she comes back to her main house with her children. The house is there…! A sigh of relief…, they find everything in the house upside down and the pork & beans caldron empty. This information was given to us by
Émérielle Perreault-Poirier, a cousin of Dad which did live up to the age of 19 yrs at grand-mother Adèle’s place. This grand-mother (who was the daughter of Joseph) died in 1931 at the age of 99 years and 10 months. Joseph is all this time in jail and his family is without any news from him. Joseph do not know how to read or to write. Few books have been written on this era by people who found agendas or letters of prisonners. These writings shows very dark descriptions of just how the prisonners were going through. They were numerous, three to four times more numerous that these places could decently receive. The men were mistreated and beaten, it was cold and humid. They ate little and of poor quality, dry bread (sometime mouldy) with water. The prisonners were worried for their family and their belongings. On the eve od an execution, prisonners nearer to the one condemned did obtain the authorisation to give a banquet to their ill-fated fellow countryman. It was the Dinner of the Girondins. No one would eat much at this dinner, emotions were too tense, there were speeches. The victime would speak lenghtly of their firm beliefs and state of mind and their recommandations that they want to leave. The hanging were proceeded outside at "Le Pied-du-courant" in front of the jailhouse. The authorities wanted in this way to have people think and make them submit more easily. Prisonners could see through the jail’s windows. Outside,
hundred, thousands that people were pressing on each other for a place. Sometime they were there because of curiosity but mostly to accompany and sympatize with the victims and their families. At the jail, each patriot was submitted to a voluntary examination. It was a sort of statement. Joseph did participate to this examination on December 6th 1838. I have found the original of this statement at the National Archives in Montreal
This statement could be seen in a negative way towards him. Il would have been impossible to demolish the pround feeling of honor that Dad did transmit to us concerning our ancestors; particularly towards Joseph LeRoux. My sister Henriette did accept to write an essay on Joseph’s tense moments of reflexion and feelings.
Personal feeling on state of mind of Joseph LEROUX (dit ROUSSON), on the eve of his questionning at the jail named "Au Pied-du-courant"(Essay by: Mrs. Henriette GAUTHIER)
I can picture him being seated on his mean-bed under the shadow on the badly lighten cells, the head in between both his hands. Tears withheld for so long are dripping slowly on his cheeks through the furrows of his worried face. Within this tired mind, life goes on as the waves of the raging sea of high and low tides of a life of hard work and thru love. Joseph is thinking about his mother, in his mind he sees again his father that death took away so soon. He gathers his forehead as he is searching (way back in his memory) for an image of this mother which he would have so much wanted to love and which presence he did lack so much. He think about his brothers and sisters which he was separated from so young. Time goes by, the evening is gone and the night has come; Jos (as other call him) is still sitting on his mean-bed without even moving. Time has stopped for him, minutes are without any meaning; it is the time for the big decision. This decision shall be just what his mind and sole tells him to say. His brothers of freedom made him take a solemn oath. He fought at their side. He did crawl in ditch with them. He did hide in the bushes (elbow to elbow with them to avoid the ennemy.he did shake with them but he was not safraid, he was fighting for freedom with them. He saw the arrests and forseen the hangings. He visualise these spouses, these children who will loose a dear being, a family supporter; and all those who implore the Lord to stop the time so they will not become widows and orphans. Poor Joseph, so old at 34 years of age and nevertheless so young. I can foresee him standing up and trying to look to the sky through the filthy bars of his cell, who could not see with his reddish eyes and swollen by so many tears. He goes back to sit with his head a little heavier on his tired hands, he babble:"You my Euphrosine, my wife that I love so much, what are you doing and mostly what will you be doing with that horde of kids who rest on your arms? Who will plough the fields? Who will pick the crops at the automn? Who will go cut the wood for heating for the coming winter? The boys are still very young. Do I have the right in the name of the freedom of my brothers to deny you? Where is my duty and my honor? And at night when our Adèle will wake up crying because she went through a nightmare and/or she will suffer a bad cold, who will comfort her? I do know that you will do it my Euphrosine,but if you are tired, your task being so huge and she is sickly this little one. How much would I wanted to tell you all of that on November 18th, but you were so frighten and intimidated". The first light of the dawn are showing at the horizon, Joseph kneel down and ask the Lord to show him the right things to do and to say. All of a sudden, he hear walking paces coming to his cell. A last tought for his brother of misfortune:"I will always be with you, a brother of freedom".
Voluntary statement of Joseph LEROUX, while in jail named in 1838.
Joseph LEROUX dit ROUSSON, farmer from St-Timothée parish, on voluntary statement taken before me and he declare the following: On or around the end of last October, the man named Prieur, a merchant of St-Timothée did commit me to be sworn to a secret oath and he sworn me himself. He made it known to me by the same occasion the secret signs of "La Société des frères chasseurs". The objective of this oath was to make sure that I would keep secret anything which would become known to me. He told me that the americans would come but not before "french-canadians" would prepare the way. Thus, it was imperative to get rid of canadian-english governments otherwise, english canadians would annihilate us. Under the command of Prieur Leduc my captain I did proceed to administer the secret oath to fifteen or sixteen inhabitants of "La Grande isle" where I reside and I also did command them in the night of Saturday the third of Courant, to go to St-Clément in order to take over this station. I went to St-Clément myself on the Monday 5 of courant where I did stay all the week, except for two days which I was at my residence. During my stay at the Camp I was assigned the rank of "Raquette", as such I did command nine men. I was assigning guard duties and had guarded prisonners. I also saw at the Camp the man named Delorimier who was also acting as first Chief. He was giving orders to under-Chiefs Prieur, Joseph Lenoix, Toussaint Rochon and a man named Roy dit Lapensé.. I also heard him giving orders to the said Prieur and Lenoix to go and make prisonner of the english minister of the parish who was consequently arrested and kept as prisonner. Prieur had order me to go and arrest and detain him but I refused. I also heard the said Delorimier reading a letter giving notice that the americans did run away in St-Jean and there was there a big fire. He also said that there were to be more fire within a few days. I also heard him say that he has been walking for four months in order to pick the crop which had been done since. He also told us that he was at the fire in St-Eustache last automn and he found shelter, after that, in United States.Delorimier had also commanded to be made a trench behind the new house of Mr Ross. During my absence of the Camp Delorimier left the said Camp on the Thursday in order to go to Ste-Martine to Camp at George Baker.I saw Prieur and Lenoix command to be made bullets and carthridges at the Camp. I have been caught at my residence fifteen days ago last Sunday.
Acknowledge before me in Montreal Jos Leroux X dit Rousson this 6th day of December 1838 Mark: P:E: Leclerc J.P.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The men which were named by Joseph in his voluntary statement were those who were those mostly involved within the region: Monsieur Chevalier De Lorimier, notary, has been hang on February 15th 1839. Messieurs Prieur, Rochon and Roy were within the group of 58 men deported in Australia under awfull conditions. Was Joseph spared because of his voluntary statement or simply because he made nothing important within the organization? Would he have benefit of a preferential privilege through the influence of a brother-in-law (with an english name) named Jean Coming (a wet cooper) and which father Duncan Coming was a brewer in Montreal?
December 21th 1838 was the day of the hanging of Joseph Narcisse Cardinal and of Joseph Duquette both arrested in a very rude fashion on preceeding November 4th in Caughnawaga. Here are the circumstances of their arrests: As the two men went to meet the Iroquois (from which they were awaiting to obtain arms) those Iroquois captured them and took them to english-canadians. English-Canadians put them in jail and condemned them to be hang. Cardinal was a notary, father of three children while Duquette, young 23 years old student was a probationer at Me Cardinal office.
Dad had told us that Euphrosine and Adèle did go to the prison to bring food to Joseph on the day of an hanging. It is realistic that it could have been on December 21st . They join a regrouping of citizens of Saint-Timothée who, in spite of the cold and the long distance, would go in number up to Montreal to assist these two co-patriots that everyone knew about. They took the occasion to go and try to gather news about Joseph and to bring him a few treats for Christmas.
During the time that the crowd was gathering closer together and spoke about the horrible drama that was taking place outside of the jail, inside Adèle and her mother Euphrosine were waiting nervously to see Joseph. Disapointed waiting…! Joseph do not present himself. What was learned, the guard who was accompanying Joseph to the parlor wanted to make a few jokes, possibly to relax tensions, he was saying to Joseph:"You are very lucky to see your wife to-day, she is very pretty, I would go and be a few hours with her (and so on)…!" Dad was saying that the guard was teasing Joseph, but Joseph would not take it, Joseph gave a (damn) punch to the guard said Dad or a tripping added Émérielle. The guard fall down the stairway….! Very fast, other guards came to help their fellow guard and (poor) Joseph has been escorted to the solitary confinment. Euphrosine went back empty-handed, her whole being full of sorrows and her eyes dropping a few tears with her little Adèle who was not even 7 years old at that time, Adèle could not understand what was going on…! What was happening to Joseph? Sure enough it is not the constable who told of this event to Euphrosine. Generally, english canadians would not consider french canadians that much so to tell her what has been going on. It is surely way after his release from prison that Joseph told about this event. Dad would tell us that in order to punish Joseph, at one time, the guards made him sit all night over the grave of Duquette; it would be logical that it would have been on the evening of December 21th. Just try to foreseewhat went through the mind of this man after this very day full of dramatic events.
The LeRoux(s) must have been through hard and unhappy moments at Christmas that year. Euphrosine alone with her children and her so many worries in her hearth concerning the uncertain husband’s future. Nearby January 7th, Joseph LeRoux went before the investigative commissioner. He defend himself. He is acquitted of this very same day. Dad was telling us that at the jailhouse, they did give him a stick and told him:"If you are attacked, you will defend yourself with it." (The investigative commissioner is an english canadian who was designated as a judge by the political authorities). Just what surprise and happiness was given to Euphrosine and also all his family to see Joseph at last coming back home. One must hardly believe their eyes. Joseph must have lost a lot of weight and he surely have been through a lot of emotions and joy mixed with worries that he lived through all this event. Afterward, did Joseph continue to participate to the contentions with english canadians and to the activities of the patriots…? I doubt it very much…! The important leaders being arrested or dead, there has been no more important uprisings.
Noteby the Webmaster: The saga of Joseph LeRoux is purely factual and historical of this very
Era and should not be seen as a political statement.
Bibliography…………………….: Web site (bilingual) of the National library of Canada was also
consulted for verification of data and events.
(Towards Confederation: Lower Canada 1791-1842)
(Vers la Confédération: Le Bas-Canada 1791-1842)