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Where our ancestors lived in France ?

Before concluding this discussion, I would try to determine exactly where our ancestors lived. I made two trips to Normandy, and I remained there eight days. Also, I bought five different maps from this part of the country. Some of them are very accurate.

The analysis of the notarial acts, the contact with people in place and a site survey, gave me the following conclusion. Colin, our first known ancestor, appears to have remained on Des Ganteries street in Rouen. The LeMessiers or the second, third and fourth generations are: Jehan, Robinet and Guillaume remained at less than two hundred yards from the church in LaHaye, on the way that goes to Val St-Pierre. Further on, the road is not passable for a car and has no home. Those who visited France noted that homes in rural areas are still grouped. In a transaction, we identify the place by this note: "At LaHaye on the road that goes to Val St-Pierre, neighbor, the common courtyard with Messiers." Some LeMessiers are regrouped at that place.

An accuracy remains to be mentioned. In 1452, Jehan bought a land in Morville. He does not live on this little piece of land. Today, it is very easy to identify. From LaHaye, on the National 31 in front of the place "The Pigpen" a small road leads us to Morville on the road that goes to St. Lucian. Less than two miles from the church of LaHaye, we cross the river Andelle. At the croissing point of the road and the river, a contract identifying the land purchased by Jehan LeMessier. It allows us to eliminate three of the four fields that affect the way of St-Lucien and Andelle. The land purchased by Jehan has the distinction of having the Andelle as a limit on one side and at the back. Today, only one field has this characteristic, a beautiful home is built.

Jehan, the husband of Cardine Aculons, would be born in LaHaye at the same place of his father and grandfather. After his marriage, he lives at the hamlet of La Remondière in St-Denis-le-Thiboult. Today, the houses of Remondière are grouped at a crossroad. There is nothing to tell me the exact place where he could stay. His son Jehan was born there. His wife Acoulons Cardine was born in the hamlet of Villers on the road of the hamlet, not on the path that goes to Rouen and passes by Villers. The constructed part of the road is about 150 meters. This means that it is easy to locate, within 75 meters, where was born and remained Cardine Acoulons before her wedding. Her husband, Jehan LeMessier, worked at her home to learn the trade of cooper. It remains only to identify the land purchased in 1603 by Jehan LeMessier to complete this file.

David has always said to stay in Villers and in Vascoeuil. Looking at the map of the region, even then this period, Villers is a hamlet of St-Denis-le-Thiboult. Some modern maps better illuminate a person who has never seen this part of the country. However, a visit of the site gives us a better idea. There are between Vascoeuil and the hamlet of Villers in St-Denis-le-Thiboult a small place with two or three houses on the National 31. Looking at my cards, I found that the place was located in Vascoeuil. Questioning the people leaving there, I am informed that this place is called "Little Villers' by them. This place would be the place where Jehan LeMessier bought his house, where his children and those of David and Margaret Barc were born. This is an information that seems to answer to many questions.

Five notary contracts inform us about the location of the David and Jehan LeMessier’s house. These contracts are dated from January 26, 1603 to May 18, 1693 They all refer as location Villers to Vascoeuil. In an act of March 25, 1643, the notary writes Villers to St Denis. After date, he removes St-Denis  to replace by Vascoeuil. A notary can be wrong once but not five times; several notaries can not err.

My maps show the boundary between Vascoeuil and St-Denis-le-Thiboult. The "Little Villers" is located on the National 31 which is the road going to Martainville, as it is indicated by the contracts of the time. Moreover, the place is located in Vascoeuil. A contract, that does not concern the LeMessiers, mentions a site located, half and half in Vascoeuil and in St-Denis-le-Thiboult. This is exactly what happens in this place. The front of the land is in Vascoeuil and the rear is in St-Denis-le-Thiboult. If the Jehan’s land occupies the eastern part of the Petit Villers, his land is fully in Vascoeuil. This is the deepest section of the Jehan’s hut and  that is wholly situated in Vascoeuil.

The act of January 26, 1603 mentions that there is a house on that property. However, when Jacques Messier sold his inheritance on April 7, 1672, it is said that the house had two dwellings. According to the description given on July 25, 1673, the two dwellings have a common wall. All indications are that his marriage in 1639, David built his house adjacent to that of his father. The land was large enough. The place seems perfectly describes to say that the remains of our ancestors were on this site.

The homeland of our ancestors is about twenty kilometers east of Rouen. The A16 motorway seems appropriate for the visitor who arrives at Charles de Gaulle to travel to this part of the country. Coming out of Beauvais, the National 31, will make crossing this part of the country located on the border of the departments of Eure and Seine-Maritime.

The first contact starts at the right of the road by a place called « La Feuillie ». In the 16th century, the LeMessiers have stayed there. Continuing our road is LaHaye, we cross home of the LeMessiers. The cemetery is on the left and a little further, it is the hamlet of the Pigpen « Le hameau de la Porcherie ». A long time ago, historians believe that there was a sty at that place. Opposite the Pigpen, to our right, a path will take us through a beautiful part of the country to meet us on the road to St Lucian, where our ancestor owned land.

Continuing our route on the National 31, we see to our left, about a hundred yards from the road, the steeple of the church of LaHaye. Then, we cross Croissy. We see a bridge where the waters of the Andelle River flow south. At this point, we enter in Vascoeuil. Later, we cross a second bridge where the waters of the Crevon River flow. Its waters flow into the Andelle in the southern part of Vascoeuil. Crossing the bridge, the Vascoeuil castle comes to our left. You can visit it by turning to the first path which also leads us into Vascoeuil.

A few dozen meters before taking the path of Vascoeuil, a road sign to the right indicates: "St-Denis-le-Thiboult, 1.5 km." Continuing our road to our right, there are some buildings that local people calls them "Little Villers." This is where David and his children lived. Less than a kilometer away is the village of Villers in St-Denis-le-Thiboult which we cross. On the right it is the road of the hamlet where lived Guillaume Acoulons, stepfather of Jehan LeMessier, grandfather of David. On the left, a small sign indicates « Le Fossé », visible from the road, location of David at the death of Marguerite Barc. A little further, on the right side, a poster shows the Remondière, birthplace of Jehan LeMessier, the grandfather of our ancestor. At this point, it is the end of the story of the country of our ancestors. Continuing our journey, we arrive at Martainville to reach Rouen a few miles away.

The distance between the start of the hamlet of Villers LaHaye is less than ten kilometers. If we look at the distance in the north-south axis, it is still less than six miles between Perrier and St-Denis-le-Thiboult. This is the part of the country where six generations were born of LeMessiers.

The country is bordered by two rivers that I have named above. The largest, the Andelle, rises from the north. Shortly before arriving at Morville, it took a southwesterly direction to resume southbound at Vascoeuil. It flows into the Seine to the south. Crevon the second river, comes from the north, passes St-Denis-le-Thiboult and empties into the Andelle after watering the garden of the Vascoeuil castle. To get an idea of these rivers, the Andelle is about eight meters wide. The Crevon River is narrower, only about two.

In the South of the National 31, it is the plain across the country with slight hills in LaHaye. However, at the north of the road, the country is dotted with hills which gives it a special charm. Between LaHaye and Morville, hills are a little higher. At the Southeast of Vascoeuil, it is the Lyon forest, the largest beech forest in France. It is an area that deserves to be visited. This is the geographical aspect of the country.

Let's talk about where our ancestors lived. At Vascoeuil, two generations of LeMessier were born. As every corner of France, it is a collection of houses around the church. A little further away, are smaller hamlets within it. There is only one street with shops. The Canadians street leads us at St-Martial church. Someone in that place told me that there are many streets of Canadians in Normandy. They were so named to commemorate the liberation of the country by soldiers from Quebec during the last world war. A recent census (around 1990) mentions a population of 427 inhabitants in Vascoeuil. In 2011, it was only 341.

St-Denis-le-Thiboult is the birthplace of Jehan LeMessier, father of David. What surprise when you enter into this village. It is the absence of any trade. The church is there with some items dating back to the 13th century. It is an historical building. Currently, researches are being done to date the elements that it furnish such as statues. The other side of the street, it is the castle and near the church to his right, a building houses the school and town hall. These are the only buildings next to the houses clustered near the church. The cemetery, formerly located on the grounds of the church, is now about 200 meters where a road at the back leads us there. I saw no LeMessier tombstone. The same road leads us to the hamlet of Sales (hameau des Ventes).

Taking the road that faces the church, on private land, you can see the chapel of St. Lorient. This is another building declared an historic monument. In his basement underlying the ancestors of Daniel Lainé.

If the population of St-Denis-le-Thiboult has less than 300 inhabitants, its territory is vast. It includes several hamlets. Obviously, there are Villers, La Remondière, Le Fossé, The Gratienville and Les Ventes. A forgotten name by local people is Genneville. It is probably a deformation of Gonneville. I own four acts mentioning this place. That of 1530 concerns a Mr. Lebonnyer He recovers a land at that location. The act specifies that the field has, as a neighbor, the forest of St-Denis. Catherine Primot remained there with her aunt Martine Messier and Antoine Primot. According to the documents, the place is on the right side, on the way between the National Highway 31 and the church. The biological parents of Catherine Primot, Ysabeau (Elizabeth) LeMessier and her husband, Guillaume Thierry, lived in the hamlet des Ventes, as shown in the act of March 25, 1643. It would be there that Catherine Thierry Primot is born, the future bride of Charles Lemoyne.

Formerly, here was a castle on a hill at the back of the church of St-Denis-le-Thiboult. According to the historian Depping, Henry 1 King of England and Duke of Normandy, the fourth son of Guillaume le Conquérant, would have died in 1135 of a surfeit of lampreys. In the « tourist routes » of the Abbot Malandrin, pastor of Ry, he noted "the important motte of the feudal Dungeon, as well as the loft and the ruins." I saw what was the gap partially surrounded. Unfortunately, I could not verify if the traces of the ruins are still found today on private property.

In the book entitled Madame Bovary, based on past history in the 19th century, part of the love affair is happening at The Huchette in Villers. During my stay, I saw the inscription "The Huchette" on the front of a beautiful house gate.

What can we say about LaHaye? The National Highway 31 crosses in the north area of St Pierre’s church. Nearly this church, we see a few houses, most of which are located in the area identified at the time "the way that goes at Val St-Pierre" are the only buildings near the church. Some are located on the National 31. Several homes are located in the hamlet of Pigpen « La Porcherie ». There is another village on the way to St Lucian who named the Thuit.

In 1795, the church of LaHaye is almost burned to the ground. A pool of water, near the church, is dry at the time of the fire. Only the foundations and sacristy are saved. Rebuilt in 1850, the church has no historical attraction.

Wandering in the cemetery, I noticed two LeMessier tombstones. They are the parents and grandparents of Roland LeMessier, the last LeMessier living in the area. I also saw the tombstone of a Vieubled, a sobriquet LeMessier, adopted as a surname. That's the description of the country where our ancestors lived.


Text comes from the volume of Gilles Messier :  Les Messier et leurs ancêtres, 700 ans d'histoire.

Last update : 

November 3, 2014

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