Another Version of the Schenectady Massacre: No Substance
by John E. La Tourette
There appears to be another Mercereau family version of the Schenectady massacre tale, which has been handed down from generation to generation. Some of the early (alleged) history of the Mercereau family was shared with me by Rae Graham, who received the genealogical work of George Whitney Mercereau from his daughter-in-law, a Mercereau descendant. What was shared with me was much more focused on the early years of the Mercereaus and Latourrettes in America, and much less comprehensive than the work of George E. Sawyer, cited below, or the four articles by Henry Lawrence Mersereau outlining the genealogy of the Mercereau family in America found in The New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Volumes 27 and 28 (1896 & 1897). Mr. Graham was very gracious to share these notes with me and, it is obvious, he should not be held responsible for their accuracy.
The Mercereau-Masse Schenectady massacre story, discussed here, represents another case where facts are twisted or overlooked to support a tale or fable which has no substance, but has become ingrained in the traditions of a family.
The version, received from Mr. Graham, contents that it was Marie's older sister Elizabeth Mercereau, her husband Pierre Masse and their children, and not Marie and Jean Latourrette, who were at the Schenectady massacre on the night of February 8/9, 1690. The story is essentially the same as the one cited on these Webpages as The Schenectady massacre: A Latourrette Fable.
"Pierre Masse and his family were living in Schenectady New York, the night of "The Schenectady massacre" 2/8/1690. Elizabeth was skelped (sic) and left for dead. She recovered, gave birth to more children and lived with her brother Joshua b 1658 in Port Richmond, some time after 1696. It is presumed Pierre died shortly after Jeanne's birth in 1696."
The one exception in this version is an associated entry about a son of Elizabeth Mercereau and Pierre Masse, named Elie Masse, being killed in the massacre. The entry reads as follows:
"Elie: b before 1/25/1682, d 2/8/1690, Schenectady Massacre, NY Age 18."
The lists of victims, both killed and captured, at the massacre do not include the names of Mercereau, Latourrette or Masse. Moreover, these names do not appear on the several lists of people receiving supplies as refugees from the massacre. See, for example, The Story of the Schenectady Massacre, January 11, 1940, Albany, NY. Also, as noted in The Schenectady Massacre: A Latourrette Fable on these Webpages, the story was researched by the archivist at Schenectady who found it had no substance. There is no evidence of these names or of a woman who was scalped and lived.
The only documentation given in this version of the Pierre Masse- Elizabeth Mercereau story is the alleged death of Elie, the son of Elizabeth and Pierre Masse at the massacre. However, this does not support the story they were at Schenectady because Elie Masse was alive and a signatory witness to the marriage of Daniel Mercereau and Suzanne Marie Doucinet three years later in August of 1693. Both Elie and his father Pierre sign as witnesses to the marriage celebrated by Pastor Peiret in the French Church in New York. (See the Church Registers, as cited in the original fable article on these Webpages, p. 31)
So again, there is only a tale without documentation. We need to label it as such or, at least, note great skepticism about the tale as George E. Sawyer does in his genealogy of the Mercereau family in
Striking inconsistencies in the documentation are apparent in all versions of this Mercereau massacre story. The author is always amazed at the gross inconsistencies found in many genealogical charts. It appears these genealogists frequently did not check their entries for consistency and historical context.
In the document from Mr. Graham, labeled "Jean 2< Joshue," the following is noted: Elizabeth b 1660 and married 4/29/1681 to Pierre Masse. Then it notes "Elie b before 1/25/1682 and d 2/8/1690 Schenectady Massacre NY. Age 18"
The person making this entry never thought that if the age of Elie is 18 in 1690, it would mean that Elizabeth was about 11 or 12 at the time of birth and that he was conceived long before the marriage in 1681. Most Mercereau family genealogies have Elie's birth on 1/25/1682 which is just about 9 months after her marriage with Pierre Masse. See Sawyer, noted above.
Under the document with the heading "Joshua b 1608" (etc), it is alleged that both Elie and the father Pierre are killed at the Feb 8/9, 1690 massacre. Yet both Pierre's and Elie's signatures are recorded in the French Church Registers in 1693 (Pierre four times on pp. 29, 30 and 31 and Elie once on p. 31) and Pierre is still having children with Elizabeth after this date.
The Mercereau papers referenced here contain additional errors. The location of Osse-en-Aspe, which is the current name for Osse, Bearn, needs to be corrected in these papers. This should be done to stop the senseless search for a non-existent Latourrette castle in other villages across France with similar names. What is cited in these papers as the location is a village named Osses, which people have searched for the castle -- one even claiming to have found it! This is the reason why the modern French postal service uses Osse-en-Aspe to distinguish it from several villages with similar names. See on these Webpages:
The Correct Location of Osse, Bearn (now Osse-en-Aspe in the modern French postal code)
Also, these Mercereau papers contain the fable of Jean Latourrette's marriage in France, which is related to another, completely undocumented fable of a count. The only marriage is in NYC on July 13, 1693. See the article on these Webpages about Jean's and Marie's marriage.
Here is a case where there was genealogical fraud by someone who doctored the original marriage record (found on pages 29-30 of the church Registers in the magazine Huguenot (a publication of a few years in the early 1930's) to make it look like a confirming marriage. The same person looked at a map of France and found Osses and assumed it was Osse or now Osse-en-Bearn, misleading generations of American ancestors of Jean Latourrette.
Finally, the fraud about the marriage continues, as one still finds the birth of Marie, the daughter of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau, sometimes listed as September 23, 1694 rather than September 23, 1693 with a date of baptism of December 6, 1693 (If anyone would consult the Registers of the NY French Church they would find the date is 1693 - see page 33.)
The author plans to write a full expose on the count fable, suggesting who perpetrated it and why. Unfortunately, people continue to repeat the fable, twisting facts to fit the tale rather than abandoning what cannot be documented.